Covax, the worldwide vaccine-sharing program, will obtain 200 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot coronavirus vaccine by way of an advance buy settlement introduced on Friday. The deal could ultimately enhance a flagging marketing campaign to vaccinate the world’s poorest international locations.
Gavi, the public-private well being partnership co-leading Covax, will buy the doses at a nonprofit value from Johnson & Johnson. Gavi mentioned that the aim is to produce the 200 million doses this yr.
Nevertheless it was not clear how rapidly these doses will begin being delivered or whether or not they may help flip across the struggling Covax program. Jake Sargent, a spokesman for Johnson & Johnson, mentioned the corporate is “striving to ship vaccine doses as rapidly as doable.”
Solely 71 million doses have been shipped out thus far by way of the Covax program, the overwhelming majority of which have been of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine. In March, the World Well being Group, one other co-leader of Covax, had mentioned 237 million doses can be allotted to taking part international locations by the tip of Could.
This system’s struggles are one issue amongst many in the rising hole in vaccination protection between the world’s wealthy and poor. Solely 0.3 % of the vaccine doses administered globally have been given within the 29 poorest international locations, residence to about 9 % of the world’s inhabitants.
Covax has been underfunded and delayed even earlier than it confronted its most vital blow final month: India, dealing with a devastating coronavirus disaster, halted vaccine exports in a foreign country, that means that Covax might not obtain doses from its main provider, the Serum Institute of India. The Serum Institute signaled this week that it could not have the ability to present vaccines past India earlier than the tip of this yr.
The huge shortfall in provide has left low-income international locations more and more depending on donations from rich international locations. President Biden has pledged to donate 80 million doses of vaccines, most from AstraZeneca, and a few of that are anticipated to be given by way of Covax. The president of the European Fee, Ursula von der Leyen, mentioned on Friday that the bloc goals to donate 100 million vaccine doses to low- and middle-income international locations this yr.
Different vaccine makers have additionally mentioned they might step up provide to low-income international locations as they battle a push, supported by the Biden administration, to extend vaccine provide by waiving mental property protections on Covid vaccines. Albert Bourla, chief govt of Pfizer, mentioned on Friday that the corporate expects to ship two billion doses of its vaccine to growing international locations within the subsequent 18 months. That projection displays present offers with governments, anticipated future agreements and Pfizer’s pledge to produce 40 million doses to Covax.