Leaders of an international body established to promote global access to coronavirus vaccines, known as Covax, announced Friday that the effort had reached additional deals with manufacturers that would allow it to access nearly two billion doses of candidate vaccines, more than half of them intended to be delivered to low- and middle-income countries.
The effort’s goal is to ensure vaccination for a fifth of the population of its 190 participating countries and economies before the end of next year.
The new deals involve vaccines that are still being studied for effectiveness and safety, one made by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford and another by Johnson & Johnson. While discussions have been underway, no arrangements have yet been finalized to procure the FDA-approved BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine that is already being administered in countries including the U.S. and Britain.
The international effort has been led by the public-private health partnership known as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, as well as the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization.
Friday’s announcement included the news that a mechanism had been developed so that countries with excess doses could share them.
Many high-income nations have made arrangements with multiple manufacturers that could result in significantly more doses than needed to vaccinate their entire populations. Officials from Canada and France announced that they intended to contribute their extra doses through Covax, although they did not specify a timeline, or say whether they would vaccinate their entire populations first.
France will “start sharing vaccines as early as possible,” Stephanie Seydoux, the country’s ambassador to global health, said at a news conference.
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