Gavi Makes Deal With J&J on COVID-19 Vaccines; WHO Says COVID-19 Deaths Could Be 2-3 Times Higher Than 3.2 Million Reported
Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine

Johnson & Johnson will supply COVAX 200 million of its single-dose COVID-19 vaccines by the end of the year, according to a statement on Friday by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, announcing the advance purchase agreement.

The vaccine will be available to both COVAX members who buy their own vaccines and the COVAX AMC members. 

“Today’s agreement between Gavi and Johnson & Johnson means the COVAX Facility is able to offer participants yet another safe and effective tool against the pandemic. I welcome Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to equitable access and to expanding global manufacturing through external partnerships, which is something that will provide long-lasting benefits even after this pandemic is over,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi.

Gavi and Johnson & Johnson are also discussing the possible supply of 300 million doses for COVAX in 2022. 

“As a one-dose vaccine, the J&J vaccine has particular relevance for places with difficult infrastructure, making it a very important addition to the portfolio.” 

“Our partnership with Gavi is the single greatest step we have taken to ensure our single-shot vaccine is accessible to everyone, everywhere. Our commitment today offers the potential to protect up to 500 million people from COVID-19,” said Paul Stoffels, Chief Scientific Officer at Johnson & Johnson

“COVAX now has agreements for eight vaccines and vaccine candidates – AstraZeneca/Oxford, Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, Serum Institute of India (SII)’s Covishield, SII’s Covavax, and Sanofi/GSK – with the aim to expand to 10-12 vaccines in total, providing participants access to a diverse range of vaccines suitable for use in varied contexts and settings.,” said Gavi.

Gavi is also trying to raise at least an additional US$1.6 billion for the COVAX AMC to enable the supply of up to 1.8 billion doses of vaccine for 92 lower-income economies. 

Japan will be hosting the upcoming Gavi COVAX AMC Summit, bringing together world leaders, the private sector, civil society and key technical partners in a virtual event on June 2nd.

In addition to doses secured via agreements with manufacturers, Gavi and its COVAX partners the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the World Health Organization and UNICEF also call on the international community to share doses with COVAX immediately to help those countries that have been worst hit by current global supply constraints and urgently need to protect their most at-risk populations.

COVID-19 Deaths Could be 2-3 Times Higher than Officially Reported

Meanwhile, a new WHO estimate suggests that deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began may be 2-3 times higher than the 3.2 million deaths officially reported until 1 May 2021.

The estimates were contained in a new World Health Organization (WHO) World Health Statistics Report, released on Friday – which tracks a wide range of health statistics on disease, risks and other health indicators, across all 194 member states.  According to the report, while 1.8 milion deaths from COVID were officially reported in 2020, the real death toll last year was likely 1.2 million more than that, based on overall excess mortality rates for 2020, as compared to previous years. 

That leaves preliminary WHO estimates to suggest the total global excess deaths attributable to COVID-19, both directly and indirectly, amounted to around 3 million in the year 2020,  the report states.

And based on the data from 2020, the excess deaths recorded until now, may be 2-3 times higher than the 3.2 million deaths recorded until now – that is more than 6 million deaths, the report suggests.  The reason for the under-estimates lay in the fact that deaths from many people with pre-existing health conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID diasese, may be recorded as dying from diabetes, heart, respiratory disease, or other such conditions – even if it was COVID that actually triggered their deterioration and death.


Cumulative confirmed COVID-19 deaths as of 1 May 2021, by region: a) in thousands; b) per 100 000 population; and c) by location

Cases Shifting From Wealthy to Low- and Middle-Income Countries 

In addition, while almost half (48%) of all reported COVID-19 deaths have occurred in the Americas, and one third (34%) in Europe, a shift in cases and deaths from higher- to lower-resource settings is now becoming evident, according to the report.

“ While high income countries (HICs) accounted for about 64% and 59% of the global monthly new cases and deaths, respectively, in January 2021, the shares dropped to 31% and 27%, respectively, in April 2021,” the report states.

In contrast, low- and medium income countries’ (LMIC) share of new global monthly cases rose from 8% in January 2021 to 37% in April 2021, and the share for new deaths from 8% to 22% between January and April 2021.

Meanwhile, of the 23.1 million cases reported in the South-East Asia Region to date, over 86% are attributed to India.  Until now, the WHO Region of the Americas and the European Region accounted for over three quarters of cases of the 150 million cases reported so far, with case rates per 100 000 population of 5999 and 5455 respectively. 


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