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Global health funders plan to buy 15 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses

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The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator plans to make advance purchase commitments for more than 15 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines over six years, starting with 1.1 billion in 2021.

The accelerator is a collaboration created in April by global health and private sector organizations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Wellcome Trust and WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

The purchases will be made through the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility and the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC). Both of the funding mechanisms use advanced purchase commitments to secure supplies, incentivize increases in manufacturing capacity, and ensure equitable global distribution, including access for people living in low-income countries (see “COVAX Created to Try to Avoid Global Bidding Frenzy for COVID-19 Vaccines”).

UNICEF and Gavi published an Expression of Interest (EoI) Wednesday requesting information from COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers that can used for budgeting and planning COVAX and the Gavi AMC.

While COVAX and the Gavi AMC are aimed at ensuring global access, Gavi and UNICEF say that it is in the interest of wealthy countries to participate in the purchasing pools rather than rely on bilateral agreements with vaccine manufacturers.

“Countries with less purchasing power as well as fewer resources and capacities to enter into their own agreements with manufacturers would benefit [from participating in COVAX] by entering into a joint pool for securing and procuring vaccine doses,” the EoI said. “Even those countries who do have the resources to enter into bilateral agreements with manufacturers, or have already done so, would benefit as the Facility provides access to a portfolio of vaccine candidates, insuring against the risk that the candidates they have invested in are unsuccessful.”

COVAX and the Gavi AMC are separate from an EU plan announced Wednesday to allocate at least $3 billion for advanced purchase agreements to procure COVID-19 vaccines (see “Momentum Builds for Equitable Procurement of COVID-19 Vaccines as EU Lays Out Strategy”).

The potential target population for vaccines procured through COVAX and the Gavi COVAX AMC includes “essential health care workers, people over the age of 65 and productive workforce,” the EoI said. It envisions purchases of 1.1 billion doses in both 2021 and 2022, increasing to purchases of over 3.9 billion doses annually from 2023 to 2025, and 1.6 billion in 2026.

The EoI asked manufacturers to provide estimates of when vaccines may be approved or be authorized for emergency use.

Responses to the EoI are due by June 22. COVAX intends to start procuring vaccines in 2020 “or whenever one or more vaccine candidates demonstrate efficacy and safety,” the document said.

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