The Serum Institute of India (SII) and UNICEF have entered into a long-term supply agreement for the AstraZeneca/Oxford and the Novavax vaccines, with the UN children’s agency saying it will have access to up to 1.1 billion doses of vaccines for around 100 countries. India is one of the world’s biggest drugmakers, and an increasing number of countries have already approached it for procuring the coronavirus vaccines.
While Oxford-AstraZeneca’s Covishield is being manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute, the Novavax is being produced by US-based Novavax Inc.
“Today we are pleased to announce the conclusion of a long-term supply agreement with the Serum Institute of India for COVID-19 vaccines, to access two vaccine products through technology transfer from ASTRAZENECA and NOVAVAX, the United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta Fore said. Fore added that UNICEF, along with its procurement partners including Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), will have access to up to 1.1 billion doses of vaccines for around 100 countries, for approximately USD 3 a dose for the low- and lower middle-income countries. This is great value for COVAX donors and a strong demonstration of one of the fundamental principles of COVAX – that by pooling our resources we can negotiate in bulk for the best possible deals,” she said.
She added that as these supply agreements are concluded, UNICEF will continue to make public relevant details of the agreements, subject to the consent of the suppliers. “Likewise, we look forward to working with SII to distribute these vaccines to countries, subject to the approval of the vaccine by World Health Organisation. Key workers and other vulnerable people in 145 countries should receive COVID-19 vaccines in the first half of this year, under the joint UN-led COVAX initiative for fair access to coronavirus-beating jabs.”
UNICEF, which plays a key role in immunisation campaigns worldwide – welcomed the development, describing COVAX as the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation ever mounted. “We must get this right, Fore said. Our country offices will support governments as they move forward with this first wave to ensure that they are ready to receive the vaccines that require ultra-cold chain (storage),” she said.