Chinese drugmakers agree to supply more than half a billion vaccines to COVAX
Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines are the latest to be included in global vaccine-sharing program
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) said on Monday it had signed two advance purchase agreements with Chinese drugmakers Sinopharm and Sinovac to provide up to 550 million COVID-19 vaccines to the COVAX program.
The new deals include up to 170 million doses of the Sinopharm shot and up to 380 million shots of the Sinovac vaccine, to be provided through to the middle of 2022, the statement said. Sinovac confirmed the agreement in a statement.
"The agreements, which come at a time when the delta variant is posing a rising risk to health systems, will begin to make 110 million doses immediately available to participants of the COVAX Facility, with options for additional doses," GAVI said.
GAVI, which runs the global vaccine sharing program COVAX with the World Health Organization (WHO) did not immediately provide details of which countries would receive the doses.
Deliveries can start quickly because both vaccines have already been granted emergency use listing by the WHO, GAVI Chief Executive Officer Seth Berkley said.
COVAX, which distributes vaccines to poorer countries, has struggled to meet its early commitments amid Indian export disruptions, forcing many countries to freeze their inoculation programs in their early phases.
However, its latest supply forecast shows that the program is on track to deliver more than two billion doses by early 2022. The vaccines by Sinovac and Sinopharm join nine other vaccines and vaccine candidates already in the program including those by AstraZeneca and Moderna.
Some countries including Thailand and Indonesia which used Sinovac as a first dose are switching to other shots for the second dose to increase protection against COVID-19.
GAVI did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether it had concerns about the vaccine's efficacy.
The WHO said on June 1 when it approved Sinovac's shot that results showed it prevented symptomatic disease in 51 per cent of those vaccinated and prevented severe COVID-19 illness and hospitalization in 100 per cent of the studied population.
The Sinopharm vaccine has an estimated efficacy of 79 per cent for all age groups, the WHO said in early May when it approved the shot.