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