The GAVI Vaccine Alliance has signed an advanced purchase agreement with Johnson & Johnson for 200 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine for the COVAX vaccine-sharing programme, it said in a statement on Friday.
GAVI said the goal was to have the doses available in 2021 and for both self-financing participants of COVAX as well as poorer countries.
“As a one dose vaccine, the J&J vaccine has particular relevance for places with difficult infrastructure, making it a very important addition to the portfolio,” said GAVI CEO Seth Berkley.
Meanwhile, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge said on Thursday that the COVID-19 vaccine inequality between richer and poorer economies was “definitely there.”
“If you speak globally, as of the 4th of May, 29 per cent of the population in high-income countries versus 1.4 per cent of the population in low- and lower-middle-income countries received at least one dose, so this inequity is definitely there, that’s why mechanisms [such] as the COVAX and the ACT-A Accelerator are so important … to have equitable access [to the vaccines],” Kluge told reporters.
The COVAX facility is an arm of the WHO-backed Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator) mechanism, which aims to bring together and make equitably accessible all global developments in the diagnostics, treatment and vaccines against COVID-19. The initiative established to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to low and lower-middle-income countries has shipped out more than 59 million vaccine doses to 122 economies since it was launched.
At an event organized by the Gavi vaccine alliance back in April, global leaders urged rich countries to donate excess vaccine doses to the COVAX mechanism.