The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) said on Monday it has signed advanced purchase agreements with Chinese drug makers Sinopharm and Sinovac to help address immediate and critical gaps in supply of COVID-19 vaccines to the COVAX program.
“The agreements, which come at a time when the Delta variant is posing a rising risk to health systems, will begin to make 110 million doses immediately available to participants of the COVAX Facility, with options for additional doses,” it said in a statement.
The new deals include up to 170 million doses of the Sinopharm shot, and up to 380 million shots of the Sinovac vaccine until mid 2022, said GAVI, which runs the global vaccine sharing scheme COVAX with the World Health Organization.
The WHO has already approved the emergency use of vaccines produced by the Chinese pharmas.
“I welcome today’s agreements with Sinopharm and Sinovac, which will make doses immediately available to COVAX participants,” said GAVI CEO Seth Berkley. “This is yet another example of GAVI’s active portfolio management strategy, ensuring the Facility has options in the face of constraints such as supply delays,” he added.
The program, which distributes vaccines to lower-income countries, has struggled to meet its early commitments. However, its latest supply forecast shows it is on track to deliver more than two billion doses by early 2022.
It aims to get COVID-19 shots to at least 20% of the populations of the world’s poorest nations. The money to buy the vaccines has been donated mostly by Western governments and charities.
Besides Sinovac and Sinopharm, there are nine other vaccines and vaccine candidates already in the program.
According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, China has shipped over half a billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to over 100 countries and international organizations.