The World Health Organisation has agreed to secure up to 40m doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the Coronavirus Disease.
The purchase agreement is coming under the United Nations-led COVAX equitable vaccine supply programme, according to a statement from the UN health agency, which said the rollout for the vaccine would commence with successful execution of supply agreement.
It quoted the WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, to have revealed that, pending emergency authorisation, close to 150mn doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine should also be available for COVAX to distribute, up to the end of March.
“Together, these announcements mean COVAX could begin delivering doses in February, provided we can finalise a supply agreement.
“The deal will also open the door for countries with spare doses, to donate them,’’ Ghebreyesus explained.
According t him, the urgent and equitable rollout of vaccines was not just a moral imperative; it’s also a strategic and economic imperative.
“This agreement with Pfizer will help to enable COVAX to save lives, stabilise health systems and drive the global economic recovery.”
Ghebreyesus added that the UN Children’s Fund was also playing a “vital role” in preparing countries for the delivery and rollout of vaccines.
The statement continued that the COVAX Facility would provide all 190 participating economies with an indicative allocation of doses by the end of January.
“This indicative allocation will provide interim guidance to participants – offering a minimum planning scenario to enable preparations for the final allocation of the number of doses each participant will receive in the first rounds of vaccine distribution.
“COVAX now has agreements in place to access just over two billion doses of several promising vaccine candidates.
“Negotiations continue for further doses to be secured through existing Research and Development agreements by COVAX co-lead the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, through evaluations of new products with promising results and through contributions from donors,” it read.
According to WHO, COVAX anticipated providing participating economies doses of safe and effective vaccines – enough to protect health care and other frontline workers as well as some high-risk individuals from the first quarter.
“The aim is to protect at least 20 per cent of each participating population by the end of the year – unless a participant has requested a lower percentage of doses. At least 1.3b of these doses will be made available to the 92 economies eligible for the Gavi COVAX AMC by the end of 2021.
“To meet its goal of securing two billion safe and effective vaccines in 2021, COVAX has built a diverse portfolio of vaccine candidates, which mitigates the risk of a product failing development, production or regulatory processes, and ensures availability of products suitable for various contexts and settings.
“This work will continue at pace to enable further supply of vaccines suitable for use across a wide range of populations and settings in 2021 and beyond,’’ it said.