Geneva, 24 November 2020 – Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, as co-lead of COVAX and administrator of the COVAX Facility, welcomes the release of interim efficacy data for the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
The publication of these encouraging results, indicating high levels of effectiveness against severe incidences of the disease, including an efficacy result of 70% – with the potential for up to 90% efficacy dependent on dosage and regimen – is positive news for the COVAX vision of equitable access to the most vulnerable groups in all countries, regardless of income level.
The AstraZeneca/Oxford candidate is in the COVAX research and development portfolio, which is overseen by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). Through a Memorandum of Understanding between Gavi and AstraZeneca signed on June 4 as well as agreements between Gavi, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Serum Institute of India, hundreds of millions of doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford candidate have now been secured on behalf of the COVAX Facility.
“Access to safe and efficacious COVID-19 vaccines for the most vulnerable groups everywhere in the world is the only way to bring the acute stage of this pandemic under control,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi. “Positive early data on any vaccine candidate is welcome news – even more so when it concerns a vaccine candidate that can be transported and delivered via traditional refrigeration and storage methods, and the manufacturer has committed to supply on a not-for-profit basis for the duration of the pandemic.”
As a vaccine candidate that can utilise standard 2-8 degree cold chain infrastructure for transport, storage and delivery, the implications of this announcement for access to all countries – particularly lower-income ones – are significant.
Gavi is coordinating the design and implementation of the COVAX Facility, a global mechanism which seeks to procure, equitably allocate and deliver 2 billion doses of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021. 97 higher-income economies have already signed up as self-financing members of the Facility, joining the 92 low-and middle-income economies who will have their participation supported by the Gavi COVAX AMC. The COVAX AMC recently surpassed its 2020 fundraising target of US$2 billion, with at least US$5 billion more needed in 2021 to procure and deliver fully-subsidised donor-funded doses of approved vaccines to vulnerable groups in AMC-eligible economies.
As part of the effort to ensure rapid, equitable access, Gavi is collaborating closely with Alliance partners UNICEF and WHO to work with countries to prepare to receive and deliver safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines once they are available – including providing support for cold chain infrastructure and technical assistance. The COVAX Facility is also working closely with multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, to ensure AMC participants have options to procure doses beyond those that are donor-funded.
The COVAX Facility is part of COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which is co-led by CEPI, Gavi and the World Health Organisation (WHO) – working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, UNICEF, the World Bank, civil society organisations and others. COVAX is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to economies of all financial means.