The agreement will further fast-track manufacturing and logistics of effective coronavirus vaccines Credit: Twitter

Guwahati: World’s largest vaccine manufacturer, Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), announced on Tuesday that it will get another $150 million in funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and GAVI vaccines alliance to manufacture additional 10 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses for India and other low and middle income countries (LMICs) next year.

The collaboration puts forth the initial agreement that was signed in August by Serum, GAVI and the Gates Foundation pushing up the sum total for mass producing vaccine doses up to 20 crore.

The agreement will further fast-track manufacturing and logistics of effective coronavirus vaccines, which has been priced at a maximum of $3 per dose or Rs 250 per dose.

The total funding received by SII has now gone up to $300 million, and the expanded collaboration also has an option for the provision of additional doses as required.

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“GAVI via its Strategic Investment Fund, will provide at-risk funding of a further $150 million, bringing the total funding provided through this collaboration to $300 million,” the company said in a statement.

“At this stage, it is important for governments, global health and financial institutions in the public and private sector to come together in ensuring that no one is left behind in the road to recovery. This association is in line with our efforts to see that the future vaccines reaches the remotest part of the world providing full immunization coverage in a bid to contain the spread of the pandemic,” said Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India.

The company also added that vaccine will be available only after attaining full licensing and World Health Organisation pre-qualification. “The funding will support at-risk manufacturing by SII for candidate vaccines from AstraZeneca and Novavax,” the company stated.

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Decisions surrounding investments in manufacturing are taken in joint collaboration among the three lead organisations of the COVAX pillar.

So far, 73 higher-income economies have pledged to join the initiative, along with 92 low-and middle-income economies that are eligible for the support.

“The Gates foundation will provide at-risk funding of a further $150 million to Gavi, bringing the total funding provided through this collaboration to $300 million. This will be used to support the SII to manufacture potential vaccine candidates, and for future procurement of vaccines for India and low- and middle-income countries via Gavi’s COVAX AMC,” according to a statement released by SII.

“The deal is additional to a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between AstraZeneca and Gavi, which was announced in June that will commit an additional 300 million doses of AstraZeneca’s candidate vaccine to the wider COVAX Facility, to be supplied upon licensure or the WHO’s prequalification. These two deals can help assure access to early doses for the most vulnerable on a truly global scale,” the statement added.

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