Okonjo-Iweala thrilled as Gavi launches innovative financing mechanism for access to COVID-19 vaccines Updated for 2021

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Updated: February 28, 2021

  • Gavi Advance Market Commitment for COVID-19 Vaccines (Gavi Covax AMC) launched at Global Vaccine Summit 2020 draws strong support, early commitments from global leaders
  • New financing mechanism, aimed at supporting affordable access for developing countries, is first building block in broader initiative to create a Covax Facility for global access to eventual COVID-19 vaccines
  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: “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.”

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, on Thursday launched the Gavi Advance Market Commitment for COVID-19 Vaccines (Gavi Covax AMC), a new financing instrument aimed at incentivizing vaccine manufacturers to produce sufficient quantities of eventual COVID-19 vaccines, and to ensure access for developing countries.

“Today’s launch moves us one step closer to the essential vision of equitable access for all,” said Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Gavi Board. “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.”

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The Gavi Covax AMC launch announcement was made at the Global Vaccine Summit, hosted by the UK Government on behalf of Gavi. The livestreamed virtual event saw participation from over 30 heads of state and government as well as leaders from government, business, civil society and international organizations. 

The Gavi Covax AMC is being launched with an initial goal of raising US$ 2 billion; enough for Gavi-supported countries to immunise health care workers as well as high-risk individuals, and create a flexible buffer of doses to be deployed where needed most.

It will not be a stand-alone financing instrument but rather represents the first building block in broader efforts to develop a COVID-19 Global Vaccine Access Facility (Covax Facility) aimed at ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, at all levels of development, that wish to participate. 

The Gavi Covax AMC is inspired by similar mechanisms that have successfully secured equitable global access to pneumococcal and Ebola vaccines. By providing volume guarantees for specific candidates before they are licenced, as well as market-wide guarantees, the Gavi Covax AMC will encourage manufacturers to make investments in production capacity. This in turn increases supply availability and reduces the amount of time it takes for licenced vaccines to become available, particularly to the poorest countries around the world.      

Building on the successes of the pneumococcal AMC

Thursday’s launch builds on the successes of Gavi’s pneumococcal Advance Market Commitment (PCV AMC), which has helped vaccinate an estimated 225 million children across 60 low and lower-middle income countries against the leading cause of childhood pneumonia.

Launched by Gavi in 2009 as a pilot with support from donors Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia, Norway and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the PCV AMC was set up to bring powerful new pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) to developing countries, tailored to their epidemiology, and to incentivise acceleration and rapid scale up of production of the vaccine.

Now, just over a decade later, more than 160 million doses of PCV are being shipped every year to Gavi countries implementing PCV in their routine immunisation programmes, and a developing country manufacturer has recently become a supplier to the pneumococcal AMC at a significantly reduced price per dose. PCV coverage rates are now as high in the developing world as they are in the developed world, and the use of the vaccine is expected to avert more than 700,000 deaths in Gavi-supported countries by 2020.

“Italy is proud to confirm its longstanding commitment in favor of global immunization,” said Giuseppe Conte, Prime Minister of Italy. “As a co-lead country of the international alliance in support of the “ACT-A Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator” and a major Gavi PVC AMC donor, we agreed to support the Covax Facility and the related Gavi-led Covid-19 AMC. Therefore, we have decided to extend our support by around 80 million dollars. The vaccine against COVID-19 must be universally and equitably available for all: it is our responsibility to ensure this objective.”

International Development and Foreign Office Minister Wendy Morton was thrilled also after the launch: “The UK is immensely proud to have been a founding donor of the successful Advance Market Commitment which has so far protected the lives of over 700,000 children from deadly pneumonia infections. We welcome Gavi’s leadership, and now offer our full support to their new coronavirus fund with a $60 million commitment from the UK to help speed up access to a vaccine when it’s ready.”

PCV AMC donors Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have agreed to commit US$ 177.5 million in unused funding remaining at the close of the PCV AMC to the newly launched Gavi Covax AMC.

First private sector commitment

AstraZeneca on Thursday became the first vaccine manufacturer to sign up to the Gavi Covax AMC. Under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding signed today, AstraZeneca will guarantee 300 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine it is developing in collaboration with the University of Oxford. These doses will be supplied upon licensure or 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), who have 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.

“We are working tirelessly to honour 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, Chief Executive Officer, AstraZeneca.

“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,” added Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI. “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”.

According to Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, “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”. “We encourage other vaccine manufacturers to work with us towards the shared global goal of finding solutions for this unprecedented pandemic.”    

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