Moderna will deliver up to 500 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to COVAX, the UN-funded program that provides shots to people in low-income and middle-income countries by the end of 2022. The announcement comes days after the World Health Organization (WHO) added two-dose jab to the emergency list and marked the fifth vaccine to receive such approval.
“I am grateful to our Gavi and COVAX partners for their tireless work and to the entire Moderna team for their cooperation in reaching this agreement,” said Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, in a statement released on the company’s website Monday. “This is an important milestone as we work to ensure that people around the world have access to our COVID-1
Last week, Moderna had announced investment initiatives to expand global supply capacity to up to 3 billion doses by 2022 and raised its 2021 production forecast for production to between 800 and 1 billion doses.
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The first vaccine is expected to be delivered at the end of the year, but the vast majority, approx. 466 million, sent in 2022. The COVAX program also gets a boost from Sweden, which announced it would donate 1 million AstraZeneca shots.
“Sweden’s announcement that it will share 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with COVAX is an excellent gesture to be repeated as soon as possible and repeatedly by governments around the world to accelerate a fair rollout of vaccines globally, “says Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director General, said in a statement on Monday. “Such support will ensure that people in vulnerable countries, especially in Africa, are able to receive their second dose through the COVAX initiative. Sweden’s most generous support is very timely, as it comes at a time when the world has the most need it. “
The program got a slap in the face in supply issues in recent weeks when India, a major producer of AstraZeneca jab, banned exports as it turned its attention to the crisis at home. Tedros said the program “urgently needs” 20 million doses that it had expected to receive in the second quarter of 2021. It is not clear when India will resume shipments as it faces supply shortages and vaccine demand among its own population. The United States has promised to send raw materials to India to help with vaccine production, oxygen, personal protective equipment and other supplies needed to combat the devastating wave.
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“We are very pleased to sign this new agreement with Moderna, which gives COVAX facility participants access to another highly effective vaccine,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, in a press release. “Expanding and having a diverse portfolio has always been a key objective of COVAX and remaining adaptable in the face of this constant pandemic, including the growing threat of new variants. This agreement is a further step in that direction.”