Chinese Sinopharm and Sinovac Vaccines to Replenish Global COVAX Facility Supplies
COVAX COVID-19 vaccine deliveries in Africa in May 2021.

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has signed advanced purchase agreements (APAs) with Sinopharm and Sinovac, Chinese biotech firms, to immediately begin supplying the global COVAX Facility with 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, the agency announced on Monday.

The agreements come as the Delta variant, first identified in India and classified as a WHO variant of concern in mid-May, increasingly poses a threat to health systems globally. It has been reported in 104 countries and is expected to become the dominant variant worldwide in the coming months.

GAVI committed to purchase 60 million doses from Sinopharm, which will be made available from July through October. An additional 60 million doses can be purchased between October and December and 50 million more doses will be available in the first half of 2022.

Some 50 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine were purchased in advance by GAVI, which will be available between July and September. GAVI will have the option to purchase a further 150 million doses from October to December and 180 million in the first half of 2022.

The addition of the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines diversifies COVAX’s portfolio, which now includes 11 vaccines and vaccine candidates.

The agreement also helps fill the huge gap that was created in the GAVI when the Serum Institute of India redirected hundreds of millions of AstraZeneca vaccine doses, originally promised to GAVI, to domestic Indian requirements earlier this spring.  Although a recent commitment by the United States and Pfizer, to provide 500 million doses of the mRNA vaccine at cost to COVAX, will help, it’s not enough to fill the vacuum created.  In addition, the Chinese-made vaccines are easier to administer since, unlike Pfizer, they don’t require ultra cold storage.

“I welcome today’s agreements with Sinopharm and Sinovac, which will make doses immediately available to COVAX participants,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI. “This is yet another example of GAVI’s active portfolio management strategy, ensuring the Facility has options in the face of constraints such as supply delays.”

“Thanks to this deal, and because these vaccines have already received WHO Emergency Use Listing, we can move to start supplying doses to countries immediately,” Berkley added.

Gavi has recently published an updated Facility global supply forecast, which shows that, thanks to several deals with manufacturers as well as donations from countries with excess supply, COVAX is on track to deliver more than 2 billion doses by early 2022. Of these, 1.8 billion fully donor-funded doses will be available for the 92 lower-income participants eligible for support by the Gavi COVAX AMC.

Read the GAVI press release here.

Image Credits: Twitter – Chinese Embassy Manila, UNICEF.

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