COVAX to purchase 40 mln doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine: WHO

By Liu Qu

GENEVA, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- COVAX, the global initiative led by the World Health Organization (WHO) to ensure rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, said on Friday that it will purchase up to 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Rollout of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has already received WHO emergency use listing, will commence with the successful negotiation and execution of supply agreements, according to a COVAX announcement.

The global initiative also confirmed that it will exercise an option to receive its first 100 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University-developed vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII), as per an existing agreement with the SII. The majority of the 100 million doses are earmarked for delivery in the first quarter of the year.

"Today marks another milestone for COVAX," said Dr. Seth Berkley, chief executive officer (CEO) of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which leads COVAX procurement and delivery. "We anticipate being able to begin deliveries of life-saving COVID-19 vaccines by the end of February. This is not just significant for COVAX, it is a major step forward for equitable access to vaccines, and an essential part of the global effort to beat this pandemic."

COVAX is currently the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.

To meet its goal of securing two billion safe and effective vaccines in 2021, COVAX has built a diverse portfolio of vaccine candidates. It intends to provide all 190 participating economies with an indicative allocation of doses by the end of this month.

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