Chinese COVID-19 vaccine makers in supply deal with COVAX

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/FrankyDeMeyer
© GettyImages/FrankyDeMeyer

Related tags COVAX Gavi Sinovac Sinopharm Delta variant

Gavi, which manages COVAX, the global COVID-19 vaccine sharing scheme, says it has secured much-needed vaccines from Chinese producers, Sinovac and Sinopharm.

The signed advance purchase agreements (APA) will make doses available to COVAX starting from this month to help address “immediate and critical gaps”​ in supply, said the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi), which co-leads COVAX alongside the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

The agreements come at a time when the Delta variant is posing a rising risk to health systems, said the organization. Some 110 million doses of the Chinese companies’ shots will be available immediately available to participants of the COVAX Facility, along with options for further doses.

Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, said the deal showed the organization’s vaccine portfolio management strategy was paying off and ensured the COVAX Facility has plenty of options “in the face of constraints such as supply delays.”  

The shots have already received WHO Emergency Use Listing (EUL). “So we can move to start supplying doses to countries immediately,” ​said Berkley. 

A Gavi representative said the organization will soon be publishing country allocation details in relation to those shots. 

When asked about evidence around the effectiveness of the Chinese makers’ vaccines against variants such as the Delta, the Gavi spokesperson told BioPharma-Reporter: “COVAX follows WHO guidance with regard to the safety and efficacy of vaccines in its portfolio. Both the Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines have been granted WHO EUL, and all COVID-19 vaccines that have so far been granted WHO EUL have shown to be highly effective against severe disease, hospitalization and death, marking them as important and effective public health tools, in combination with public health measures, to slow down this pandemic. This is even more urgent as the world confronts the rising threat of variants.”

Agreed delivery timelines

In total, Sinovac can supply up to 380 million doses while Sinopharm will make up to 170 million doses of its shot available to self-financing participants of the Facility as well as participants supported by the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).

Gavi said 60 million doses of Sinopharm’s BBIBP-CorV inactivated virus vaccine against COVID-19 will be made available from July through October 2021. It then has the option to purchase a further 60 million doses in Q4 2021 and 50 million more doses in the first half of 2022, if necessary. 

In terms of Sinovac’s CoronaVac, Gavi has committed to purchase 50m doses to be made available from this month through to September 2021. In addition, the organization has the option to buy an additional 150 million doses in Q4 2021 and 180 million more doses in the first half of 2022. 

Current COVAX portfolio

At the end of June, Gavi also signed an APA with Clover Biopharmaceuticals for its SCB-2019 protein-based adjuvanted vaccine candidate against COVID-19. The agreement will make up to 414 million doses available to participants of the COVAX Facility.  

The COVAX Facility portfolio, administered by Gavi, now consists of agreements linked to 11 vaccines and vaccine candidates – AstraZeneca/Oxford, Clover, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sanofi/GSK, SII-Covishield, SII-Covovax, Sinopharm and Sinovac. Gavi said the portfolio provides participants access to a diverse range of vaccines suitable for use in varied contexts and settings, and to mitigate against the risk of R&D failures, regulatory delays and supply constraints.

WHO tells drug makers to prioritize poorer nations 

Meanwhile, at a press briefing yesterday, WHO director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said the world’s ever increasing vaccine disparity was triggered by “greed,”​ and he urged vaccine manufacturers to prioritize poor countries in terms of COVID-19 vaccine supply now, instead of pressing for the use of booster shots in wealthier nations.

“Currently, data shows us that vaccination offers long lasting immunity against severe and deadly COVID-19.

“The priority now must be to vaccinate those who have received no doses and protection.

“Instead of Moderna and Pfizer prioritizing the supply of vaccines as boosters to countries whose populations have relatively high coverage, we need them to go all out to channel supply to COVAX, the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team and low- and low-middle income countries, which have very low vaccine coverage.”

He said AstraZeneca has led on licensing their vaccines around the world to increase vaccine capacity quickly.

“As well as Europe, India and the Republic of Korea, I am pleased to announce two more manufacturing sites, in Japan and Australia, which have now received a WHO Emergency Use Listing, bringing AstraZeneca’s EUL’s to five. This gives the green light for COVAX to buy vaccines from these additional facilities and enables countries to expedite their own regulatory approval to import and roll out vaccines. We need other manufacturers to follow this example." 

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