Serum Institute of India (SII) has inked a pact with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as well as Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, to make 100 million doses of a potential vaccine. This is for low- and medium-income countries, and with a price cap of Rs 250 a dose.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, via its Strategic Investment Fund, will provide at-risk funding of $150 million to Gavi for supporting SII in the manufacture, the company noted.
Priced at $3 a dose, the vaccines will be made available in 92 countries, including India. These are those included in Gavi’s Covax Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
Covax is an initiative by the World Health Organization (WHO) — which is managed by Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) — to ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine.
SII also has a tie-up with Oxford-AstraZeneca for its candidate AZD1222, which is under advanced stages of clinical trial. SII will supply 1 billion doses to AstraZeneca, which has already committed to 2 billion doses of AZD1222.
SII plans to make 300 million doses of AZD1222 by December, and will begin phase-2 trials soon. It has also tied up with Novavax for development and commercialisation of its candidate. It will have exclusive rights for that in India (during the term of the deal) and non-exclusive rights during the ‘pandemic period’ in all countries, besides upper-middle or high income countries.
SII said Gavi and the Foundation would provide upfront capital to help increase manufacturing capacity. The funding will aid at-risk manufacturing by SII for AstraZeneca’s and Novavax’s candidates, which will be available for procurement if they are successful in attaining full licensure and WHO’s pre-qualification. The arrangement also provides the option to secure additional doses if the vaccines arm of the ACT Accelerator sees the need.
Serum’s tie-ups with AstraZeneca and Novavax will continue. Besides the 100 million doses it will supply to Gavi-led Covax (at Rs 250 each), it will be free to price the vaccines in India. “To make our fight against Covid-19 stronger and all-embracing, SII has partnered with Gavi and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to advance the manufacturing and delivery of up to 100 million doses of future Covid vaccines for India, along with low- and middle-income countries in 2021,” said Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum.