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Serum Institute to produce additional 100 mn COVID-19 vaccine doses for India, other countries

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New Delhi, Sep 29: Serum Institute of India (SII) on Tuesday said it along with Gavi and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will manufacture an additional up to 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for India and low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

Serum Institute to produce additional 100 mn COVID-19 vaccine doses for India, other countries

The latest collaboration between the partners brings the total number of vaccine doses to be covered to an aggregate of up to 200 million doses, SII said in a statement.

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In August, SII had entered into a new partnership with international vaccine alliance Gavi and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

The collaboration will provide upfront capital to SII to help it increase manufacturing capacity now, so that once a vaccine gets regulatory approval and WHO Prequalification, doses can be distributed at scale to LMICs, it added. The doses will be distributed as part of the Gavi COVAX AMC mechanism as early as the first half of 2021, it said.

"The collaboration further bolsters up our fight against COVID-19. "Through the avid support of Gavi and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we will now manufacture and deliver up to an additional 100 million doses of immunogenic and safe-proven future COVID-19 vaccines to India and low- and middle-income countries in 2021," SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said.

At this stage, it is important for governments, global health and financial institutions in the public and private sector to come together in ensuring that no one is left behind in the road to recovery, he added.

"This association is in line with our efforts to see that the future vaccines reach the remotest part of the world providing full immunisation coverage in a bid to contain the spread of the pandemic," Poonawalla said.

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, via its Strategic Investment Fund, will provide funding of a further USD 150 million to Gavi, bringing the total funding provided through this collaboration to USD 300 million. This will be used to support the SII to manufacture potential vaccine candidates, and for future procurement of vaccines for India and low- and middle-income countries.

The funding will help accelerate the manufacturing by SII for candidate vaccines licensed from AstraZeneca and Novavax, which will be available for procurement if they are successful in attaining full licensure and WHO Prequalification.

The vaccines will have a ceiling price of USD 3 per dose, a price enabled by investments made by partners such as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and SII.

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    The collaboration among Gavi, SII, and the Gates Foundation supports the efforts of the ACT Accelerator's vaccines pillar, also known as COVAX, co-led by Gavi, CEPI and the World Health Organization (WHO), to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccines and ensure rapid and global access to them. Decisions around investment in manufacturing are taken in close collaboration between these three lead organisations of the COVAX pillar.

    Under the COVAX umbrella, Gavi is coordinating the COVAX facility, which provides the governments with the opportunity to benefit from a large portfolio of COVID-19 candidate vaccines using a range of technology platforms. So far, 73 higher-income economies have formally committed to join the facility, in addition to the 92 low- and middle-income economies that are eligible for support from the Gavi COVAX AMC.

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