Moderna providing up to 500M vaccine doses to Covax program for lower-income countries

Moderna committed to providing up to 500 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to a United Nations-backed initiative designed to supply vaccinations to middle- and low-income countries.

The company announced an agreement with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to sell an initial 34 million doses to COVAX at the “lowest tiered price” within the fourth quarter of this year. The deal also permits Gavi to purchase 466 million additional vaccine doses in 2022.

But while the move will help with global access, the vaccines won’t be delivered until the second half of the year. That means the short- and even medium-term supply issues won’t be solved by the sale.

What’s COVAX? Gavi co-leads, along with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVAX program, which aims to give lower-income nations access to shots by 2022. Covax aims to distribute up to 2 billion doses this year, with a goal of reaching 20 percent of the population in participating countries. To date, it has delivered 49 million doses.

The COVAX program hit a roadblock in recent weeks when India outlawed exports of COVID-19 vaccines as the nation deals with rapidly rising case and death numbers. India hosts the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer and has been a main supplier of AstraZeneca doses.

Follows: Moderna’s pledge comes three days after the WHO authorized the company’s vaccine for emergency use – the fifth vaccine to get such approval.