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Gavi hopeful Serum Institute will resume supplies for COVAX by 3rd quarter

The WHO-backed COVAX facility’s plans to roll out hundreds of millions of doses of vaccines to scores of countries.
Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SII. (HT photo)
Updated on May 18, 2021 11:57 PM IST
ByRezaul H Laskar, New Delhi

The backers of the COVAX facility, created to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to low-income countries, said on Tuesday that they are in contact with the Indian government and the Serum Institute of India (SII) on the resumption of vaccine supplies by the third quarter of the year.

The WHO-backed COVAX facility’s plans to roll out hundreds of millions of doses of vaccines to scores of countries that have been hit by a slowdown in vaccine deliveries from the SII as the Indian government shifted focus to tackling a massive surge in Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) infections.

SII CEO Adar Poonawalla said on Tuesday that the firm hopes to “start delivering [vaccines] to COVAX and other countries by end of this year”. He acknowledged that as part of global alliances, the SII had commitments to COVAX so that it could distribute vaccines around the world.

Responding to the statement from SII’s CEO, a spokesperson for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which is the co-lead for the COVAX facility, said, “We remain in regular and close contact with both the [Indian] government and SII, and remain hopeful that deliveries could resume, in reduced quantity, in the third quarter.”

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COVAX extends its “full support and friendship to the people of India, and to the government as it battles this latest terrible surge of the virus,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that COVAX is hoping to conclude agreements with new suppliers and cooperate with countries with the largest supplies of vaccines so that doses can be delivered where they are needed the most.

“COVAX’s first priority at the moment, alongside raising the necessary financial support from donors to fully fund the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) and procure 1.8 billion doses for lower income countries and finalising agreements with new suppliers, is to work with governments with the largest supplies to urgently deliver them, through COVAX, to countries where they can have an immediate impact in addressing this short-term supply disruption,” the spokesperson said.

An agreement between Gavi and SII specified that the Indian manufacturer would supply 1.1 billion doses of either the AstraZeneca or the Novavax vaccine, with 200 million doses committed and the rest on option.

COVAX had expected more than 100 million doses from SII between February and May, excluding supplies for India, but has received a little more than 18 million doses. COVAX’s total vaccine shortfall is estimated to be 140 million doses by the end of May.

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