UNICEF and the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), on May 27 announced a long-term agreement (LTA) for the supply of the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine.
This is the fourth long-term supply agreement UNICEF has signed with a COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer. So far this year, UNICEF has signed such agreements with the Serum Institute of India, Pfizer and AstraZeneca.
Procurement by UNICEF under this agreement is conditional on the product achieving an Emergency Use Listing from WHO, to confirm the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine.
In addition, an Advance Purchase Agreement (APA) with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, will also be needed for procurement to begin on behalf of the COVAX Facility. Should the COVAX Facility decide to enter into an advance purchase agreement for the supply of the Sputnik V vaccine, UNICEF will be ready to deliver as soon as regulatory milestones have been met.
"At this point, UNICEF through this LTA, stands ready to access up to 220 million doses of the vaccine available for supply in 2021, to meet country demand," UNICEF said in a statement.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
The Sputnik V vaccine consists of two different components of the vaccine to be administered 21 days apart. An exact delivery schedule will be determined in collaboration with the manufacturer.
"UNICEF’s priority is to make sure that all countries have safe, fast and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccine and to help them prepare for the rollout of immunization," the UN body said.
"The best way to bring the pandemic under control is to ensure that safe and effective vaccines are made available as widely as possible and as quickly as possible, reducing inequity by ensuring that no country or territory is left behind due to its economic status," it added.