Covid Vaccine Update: Pune based Serum Institute of India struck a $150 million deal with Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, which was founded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to produce 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca and Novavax for 57 and 92 countries that are part of Gavi Covax AMC, which aims to provide up to two billion doses of vaccines to eligible countries, including India, by the end of 2021.
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Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines by volume said that the doses would be made available for as low as US$ 3 (around Rs 225) per dose. This is at par with the lowest price indications that have been suggested until now for the different vaccine candidates currently under development.
The ceiling price of Rs 225/dose is significantly proposed to only 92 countries which are under the Covax alliance. Covax is led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the World Health Organization (WHO), and it hopes to ensure “fair and equitable” access to Covid-19 vaccines to “every country in the world”.
In the first phase, Covax will make available vaccine doses to cover 3% of the population of countries that are part of the programme (this proportion is expected to cover essential workers).
Covax intends to ensure that the vaccines that work are distributed fairly around the world. It aims to make available two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2021, for which it is raising $18 billion, but some of the money is coming from around 75 countries that have signed up as donors in return for a share of the vaccines. Like the 92 low and middle income countries, they too will get, through Covax, enough doses to vaccinate 20% of the population. Some health activists have criticised this part of the programme (giving donors vaccines), but in the absence of this sweetener, it is unlikely that Gavi will be able to raise as much money as it needs. The UK, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan and New Zealand are among the donor countries.
Govt sets up task forces for vaccine distribution
India has formed an expert committee comprising representatives from all relevant ministries and institutions to oversee all aspects of its Covid-19 vaccine plan, from the identification of the vaccine to buying to financing the purchase to distribution and administration.
Serum Institute has also partnered with Oxford University-Astra Zeneca for manufacturing COVID vaccine in India. Recently, the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) has given approval to Serum Institute of India, Pune to conduct Phase II+III clinical trials of Oxford University-Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine (COVISHIELD) in India.