By Peter Kenny
GENEVA (AA) - The global vaccine alliance GAVI said Tuesday that it should be able to provide a vaccine against COVID-19 for $3.
The announcement came the day after the World Health Organization (WHO) announced a set of agreements to make available, for low and middle-income countries, affordable, high-quality COVID-19 antigen rapid tests at which a price of $5 a dose was announced as a ceiling.
“This is vaccine manufacturing for the Global South, by the Global South, helping us to ensure no country is left behind when it comes to access to a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI.
He said, “No country, rich or poor, should be left at the back of the queue when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines; this collaboration brings us another step closer to achieving this goal.”
No vaccine has yet been found and universally accepted to counter the novel coronavirus that has claimed more than one million lives worldwide.
“The vaccines will have a ceiling price of $3 a 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 (Serum Institute of India),” said GAVI.
It said the funding will help accelerate the manufacturing by SII for candidate vaccines licensed from UK-based pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca and US vaccine development company Novavax, which will be available for procurement if they are successful in attaining full licensure and WHO Prequalification.
So far, 75 higher-income economies have formally committed to joining the COVAX Facility, in addition to the 92 low- and middle-income economies that are eligible for support from the Gavi COVAX AMC, said Gavi.
In a speech via video link on Tuesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spoke about the virus during a sustainable development goal forum in Bahrain.
“We cannot accept a world in which the rich have access to vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics, while the poor miss out,” said Tedros.
“Through the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator and the COVAX Facility, we’re working to ensure that doesn’t happen.”
Neither WHO nor Gavi had been prepared to fully divulge which countries are signed up to the COVAX Facility.
EU countries, Australia, Britain, Canada, and Switzerland have signed up, and COVAX coordinators are still in talks with China, Berkley has said.
The US has said it will not join due to President Donald Trump’s disapproval of the WHO, and it is not known what Russia will do.
Turkey has stated its commitment of intent to participate in the facility but has not yet officially joined.