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WHO's COVID-19 vaccine drive doubles global supply to 2 billion doses

By
Don Jacobson
Doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are seen on Monday at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. Photo by Jacquelyn Martin/UPI/Pool
Doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are seen on Monday at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, D.C. Photo by Jacquelyn Martin/UPI/Pool | License Photo

Dec. 18 (UPI) -- A global initiative seeking fair access to COVID-19 vaccines for poorer countries said Friday it has secured commitments for 2 billion doses in nearly 200 nations -- doubling its existing supply.

COVAX, the effort co-led by the World Health Organization, said it has guaranteed access to doses of vaccines that are now in development -- including new commitments for 500 million doses of a vaccine being tested by Johnson & Johnson and 170 million from one by AstraZeneca.

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COVAX already had an agreement with the Serum Institute of India for 200 million doses of either the AstraZeneca vaccine or a candidate under development by U.S. biotech Novavax. There's also a statement of intent for 200 million doses of a vaccine from Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline.

"We now have safe and effective vaccines that can protect against COVID-19 and a clear pathway to securing 2 billion doses for the populations at greatest risk all around the world," said Dr. Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations -- which is partnering with the WHO and vaccine alliance Gavi in the COVAX initiative.

With the new commitments, all 190 participating COVAX nations will have access to a coronavirus vaccine in the first half of 2021. Ninety-two have low- and middle-income economies and qualify for special assistance through Gavi's COVAX Advance Market Commitment program.

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First vaccine deliveries are expected to begin between January and April, pending regulatory approvals and delivery logistics.

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