The world’s largest vaccine manufacturing company, Serum Institute of India (SII) said that it would get a further $150 million in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the GAVI vaccines alliance to make an additional 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses for India and other low- and middle-income countries next year.
The collaboration builds upon an initial agreement signed in August by the company with the GAVI alliance and the Gates Foundation, with the total number of vaccine doses to be covered by the partnership now up to 200 million.
“At this stage, it is important for governments, global health and financial institutions in the public and private sector to come together in ensuring that no one is left behind in the road to recovery. This association is in line with our efforts to see that the future vaccines reach the remotest part of the world providing full immunization coverage in a bid to contain the spread of the pandemic,” said Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India.
“The funding will support at-risk manufacturing by SII for candidate vaccines from AstraZeneca and Novavax,” the drugmaker said. The vaccines will be available for procurement if they are successful in attaining full licensure and World Health Organisation pre-qualification, the company added.
The Gavi COVAX AMC, which is currently seeking at least $2 billion in initial seed funding, will meet at least part of the cost of procurement for the vaccine doses. The Gavi Board has agreed upon the final list of 92 countries that will be supported by the Gavi COVAX AMC, the company further stated.
In this new collaboration, AstraZeneca’s candidate vaccine, if successful, will be available to 61 Gavi-eligible countries. Novavax’s candidate, if successful, will be available to all 92 countries supported by the Gavi COVAX AMC. These countries align with SII’s licensing agreements with the two partners.
Under the COVAX umbrella, Gavi is co-ordinating the COVAX Facility, which provides governments with the opportunity to benefit from a large portfolio of COVID-19 candidate vaccines using a range of technology platforms, produced by more manufacturers across the world, with a bigger market to provide security of demand. So far 73 higher-income economies have formally committed to join the Facility, in addition to the 92 low- and middle-income economies that are eligible for support from the Gavi COVAX AMC.
Earlier, Novavax Inc announced that it has revised its deal with SII in order to produce 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
As a part of the expanded agreement, Serum Institute will also manufacture the antigen component of NVX‑CoV2373, Novavax’ COVID‑19 vaccine candidate.
On Saturday, calling vaccine manufacturing and distribution a “concerning challenge”, Serum’s Head Adar Poonawalla said that the government may need ₹80,000 crore over the next one year for distribution of covid-19 vaccine to every person in India.
“Will the government of India have 80,000 crores available, over the next one year? Because that’s what @MoHFW_INDIA (health ministry) needs, to buy and distribute the vaccine to everyone in India. This is the next concerning challenge we need to tackle,” Poonawalla tweeted.
Serum is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by number of doses produced and sold globally (more than 1.3 billion doses). Vaccines manufactured by Serum are accredited by the World Health Organization, Geneva and are being used in approximately 170 countries across the globe.