UNICEF to receive 200 million vaccines from Chinese company by year's end
The COVAX vaccine equity scheme is on course to begin deliveries in the developing world of COVID-19 vaccines from Sinovac from August, after the Chinese pharmaceutical company confirmed a 200-million-dose supply deal with the United Nations this week.
The UN Children's Emergency Fund, or UNICEF, announced that Sinovac will supply 50 million doses through September, and a further 150 million doses over the remainder of this year. Both parties agreed to an option for a further 180 million vaccines in the first half of 2022, taking the total number of doses available under the deal to 380 million.
The vaccines will be distributed through COVAX, which is an international partnership of organizations that oversees the equitable distribution of vaccines around the globe, especially in developing regions. The Sinovac vaccine, which is called CoronaVac, is already widely in use in multiple nations, but only became eligible for distribution under COVAX when it gained emergency use listing from the World Health Organization, or WHO, in June.
"Deliveries could start as early as August providing countries are ready to receive them," UNICEF said in a statement. Science analytics company Airfinity expressed confidence that Sinovac would be able to meet its supply target for COVAX.
"Sinovac has delivered the most doses to date of all the candidates at 1.17 billion doses and with its expanding production capabilities we would expect Sinovac to be able to successfully deliver these doses to COVAX by the end of 2021," Airfinity's lead analyst Caroline Casey told China Daily.
UNICEF now has eight supply deals in place for COVAX, including agreements with the Serum Institute of India (which manufactures the AstraZeneca jab), Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Human Vaccine (which makes the Sputnik V jab), Moderna, Janssen, and China's Sinovac and Sinopharm.
The new supply deal follows on from an advance purchase agreement made between Sinovac and COVAX partner the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, or Gavi, in mid-July.
Gavi also has an advance purchase agreement in place with Sinopharm for 60 million doses, with an option for a further 110 million through the first half of 2022.
Gavi said that the inclusion of the Sinopharm and Sinovac treatments in the COVAX portfolio will help the program contend with supply delays, which have greatly hampered distribution.
In the first half of this year COVAX was heavily reliant on doses of the AstraZeneca jab manufactured in India and South Korea, as well as a smaller amount of supply from Pfizer. After Indian authorities paused vaccine exports due to major domestic outbreaks of the novel coronavirus, the COVAX program missed distribution targets by a wide margin, delivering just 77 million out of an intended 252 million doses by early June.