Representative image (Source: Reuters)
The US-based Moderna Inc, one of the world's leading COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, announced on May 3 that it has signed a deal with the COVAX global vaccine equity programme to supply 500 million vaccine doses to the lowest income countries.
The agreement was finalised by Gavi (Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation), which co-leads the COVAX global initiative. As per the deal, Moderna would deliver 34 million doses of vaccine in the fourth quarter of 2021 -- between October and December.
"Through this agreement, on behalf of the COVAX Facility, Gavi also retains the option to procure 466 million additional doses in 2022," Moderna said in a statement.
All vaccine doses under this arrangement are being offered at "Moderna's lowest tiered price", in line with the company’s global access commitments, the statement added.
The agreement covers the 92 countries identified as low- and middle-income economies by Gavi. Under the COVAX initiative, concerted efforts are being undertaken to provide these countries with the COVID-19 jabs.
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The Moderna vaccine turned eligible for COVAX supplies after the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued an emergency use listing on April 30. The vaccine, as per the clinical trials, has been found effective in preventing coronavirus infections in individuals aged 18 and older.
The agreement with COVAX is an "important milestone" to ensure that people around the world have access to COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna's Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel said.
“We recognize that many countries have limited resources to access COVID-19 vaccines. We support COVAX’s mission to ensure broad, affordable and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and we remain committed to doing everything that we can to ending this ongoing pandemic with our mRNA COVID-19 vaccine," Bancel added.
Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, also noted that "this agreement is a further step" in the direction to expand universal access to vaccines.
"Expanding and having a diverse portfolio has always been a core goal for COVAX, and to remain adaptable in the face of this continually evolving pandemic – including the rising threat posed by new variants," Berkley said.