Gavi Launches $2-Billion COVID-19 Vaccine Funding Initiative

June 4, 2020
BioPharm International Editors

The Gavi advance market commitment for COVID-19 vaccines is a new financing instrument aimed at incentivizing vaccine manufacturers to produce sufficient and affordable quantities of COVID-19 vaccines.

Gavi, the vaccine alliance, announced on June 4, 2020 the launch of the Gavi advance market commitment for COVID-19 vaccines (Gavi Covax AMC), a new financing instrument meant to incentivize vaccine manufacturers to produce sufficient quantities of eventual COVID-19 vaccines that will be affordable for developing countries.

The initial goal of the program is to raise $2 billion, enough for Gavi-supported countries to immunize health care workers and high-risk individuals and to create a flexible buffer of doses to be deployed where needed most.

The Gavi Covax AMC is not intended to be a stand-alone financing instrument but is the first of an expected series of broader efforts to develop a COVID-19 global vaccine access facility (Covax Facility), which will help ensure access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries. The program was inspired by similar mechanisms such as a pneumococcal advance market commitment launched in 2009, that have been shown to successfully secure global access to pneumococcal and Ebola vaccines. The program will encourage manufacturers to make investments in production capacity by providing volume guarantees for specific candidates before they are licensed and market-wide guarantees. This in turn will increase supply availability and reduce the amount of time it takes for licensed vaccines to become available, particularly to the poorest countries around the world, Gavi stated in a press release.

“Today’s launch moves us one step closer to the essential vision of equitable access for all,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, chair of the Gavi board, in the press release. “By de-risking the cost of investing in high volumes of manufacturing against an unknown outcome-and making sure those investments are made now-the Gavi Covax AMC increases the likelihood that when we have a successful vaccine or vaccines, it will be available in sufficient quantities and affordable to developing countries.”

First private sector commitment

Also on June 4, 2020, AstraZeneca became the first vaccine manufacturer to sign up to the Gavi Covax AMC. Under an agreement, AstraZeneca will guarantee 300 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine- a recombinant adenovirus vaccine-the company is developing with Oxford University. These doses will be supplied upon licensure or World Health Organization (WHO) prequalification.

Gavi’s funding of procurement through a volume guarantee is being carried out alongside efforts by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), which has announced a funding award to support manufacturing for the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine candidate. Both AstraZeneca and Oxford have committed to operating on a not-for-profit basis for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic period to enable broad and equitable access, including for low and lower-middle income countries.

AstraZeneca’s agreement with CEPI and Gavi includes $750 million to support the manufacturing, procurement, and distribution of the 300 million doses, with delivery starting by the end of 2020. In addition, AstraZeneca reached a licensing agreement with the Serum Institute of India to supply one billion doses for low and middle-income countries, with a commitment to provide 400 million doses before the end of 2020.

AstraZeneca’s agreement with CEPI and Gavi also represents the first advanced market commitment through the access to COVID-19 tools (ACT) accelerator, a global mechanism co-chaired by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and WHO. CEPI will lead development and manufacturing and Gavi will lead procurement within the global mechanism.

“We are working tirelessly to honor our commitment to ensure broad and equitable access to Oxford’s vaccine across the globe and at no profit. Today marks an important step in helping us supply hundreds of millions of people around the world, including to those in countries with the lowest means. I am deeply grateful for everyone’s commitment to this cause and for their work in bringing this together in such a short time,” said Pascal Soriot, CEO, AstraZeneca, in the press release.

“With COVID-19, we now see what happens when the world faces a pandemic without a vaccine. CEPI was established to support and accelerate the development of vaccines against emerging infectious diseases and to ensure that they are distributed equitably during outbreaks,” said Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI, in the press release. “We are working with companies from around the world to speed vaccine development. And we are working closely with Gavi to put in place mechanisms such as the COVID-19 Vaccines AMC to ensure that vaccines are manufactured at scale and distributed equitably. Gavi has been an absolutely terrific partner in this endeavor and I am sure that together we will develop solutions as big and bold as the COVID-19 pandemic requires, that will serve everyone, everywhere”.

“Today we have seen tremendous willingness from donor governments to support equitable access, particularly to developing countries, through this Gavi Covax AMC-and it is incredibly heartening to see the private sector join in this effort,” added Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, in the press release. “We encourage other vaccine manufacturers to work with us towards the shared global goal of finding solutions for this unprecedented pandemic.”

Funding boost

Meanwhile, The Gates Foundation has said it is committing $100 million to the Gavi Covax AMC. This includes $50 million of new funding announced on June 4, 2020 and the foundation’s $50-million pledge made at the Coronavirus Global Response International Pledging Event in May 2020. In addition to the $100-million intended for Gavi Covax AMC, the foundation has also pledged a separate $75 million to the Gavi Matching Fund that was announced in January 2020. All told, the foundation has pledged $1.6 billion over a five-year period to Gavi for delivering life-saving vaccines to the world’s poorest countries.

Source: Gavi, AstraZeneca, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation