First COVAX shipments were dispatched late last week to Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, and more are due to begin arriving this week in countries including the Philippines, Indonesia, Fiji, Mongolia and Moldova. This supply represents the first COVID-19 vaccine for many of these countries.
Further shipments will arrive in the coming weeks with the aim of supplying a total of 142 countries with hundreds of millions of doses of the vaccine in the coming months. The majority of these doses, manufactured by AstraZeneca and its licence partner Serum Institute of India, will go to low and middle-income countries.
Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive Officer, Astra Zeneca, said: “These first steps towards fulfilling our broad, equitable and no-profit emergency response to the pandemic mean millions of people, irrespective of their country’s income level, will soon be protected against this deadly virus. This is a moment of great pride for us at AstraZeneca and I am extremely grateful to our partners including Gavi, CEPI and Oxford University for their hard work and dedication in order to make this humanitarian ideal a reality for many millions of people around the world.”
Seth Berkley, Chief Executive Officer, Gavi, said: “Global, equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines is only possible when the public and private sectors work together. When we launched the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment in June 2020, our first Agreement was with AstraZeneca. Nine months later, the first doses are already being delivered to those that need them most. This is the beginning of COVAX’s effort to end the acute phase of the pandemic, not the end, but we can all take strength from this moment and I thank AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford for their support and partnership at every step of our journey.”
Vaccine shipments have been allocated according to the COVAX Allocation Framework which determines volume per participating country based on a number of factors, including country readiness, national regulatory authorisations and national vaccination plans in place. The supply through COVAX follows the recent Emergency Use Listing by the World Health Organization (WHO) for active immunisation in individuals 18 years of age and older, which provides a vital and accelerated pathway to enable supply.
AstraZeneca was the first global pharmaceutical company to join COVAX in June 2020 in line with the Company’s shared commitment to global, equitable access to vaccines.
The vaccine can be stored, transported and handled at normal refrigerated conditions (2-8 degrees Celsius/36-46 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least six months and administered within existing healthcare settings.
COVAX is a global mechanism co-founded by CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance working with WHO, UNICEF, civil society organisations and industry groups to accelerate the development, production and equitable access to new COVID-19 tools across the world for all participating countries, regardless of income level.
COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, formerly AZD1222
COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca was co-invented by the University of Oxford and its spin-out company, Vaccitech. It uses a replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein. After vaccination, the surface spike protein is produced, priming the immune system to attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus if it later infects the body.
In addition to the programme led by Oxford University, AstraZeneca is conducting a large trial in the US and globally. In total, Oxford University and AstraZeneca expect to enrol up to 60,000 participants globally.
The vaccine has been granted a conditional marketing authorisation or emergency use in more than 50 countries across six continents, and with the recent Emergency Use Listing granted by the WHO accelerates the pathway to access in up to 142 countries through the COVAX Facility.