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First shipments of AZ/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine sent through COVAX

First COVAX shipments of vaccine dispatched to Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire

AstraZeneca (AZ) has announced the first doses of its Oxford University-partnered COVID-19 vaccine have begun arriving in low and middle-income countries through the international vaccines-sharing facility COVAX.

The first COVAX shipments of the AZ/Oxford vaccine were dispatched to Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire late last week, with more due to begin arriving in other countries this week.

In the coming weeks, further shipments will arrive with the aim of supplying a total of 142 countries with ‘hundreds of millions of doses’ of the AZ/Oxford vaccine.

In a statement, AZ said that the majority of these doses, manufactured by AZ and its license partner Serum Institute of India (SII), will be shipped to low- and middle-income countries.

In June 2020, AZ signed agreements with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI), Gavi the Vaccine Alliance and SII.

This included a $750m agreement with CEPI and Gavi to support the manufacturing, procurement and distribution of 300 million doses of the AZ/Oxford vaccine through COVAX.

AZ also signed a licensing agreement with SII to supply one billion doses of the vaccine for low- and middle-income countries.

COVAX is the vaccine pillar of the World Health Organization's (WHO) ACT Accelerator – a collaborative initiative co-led by the WHO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and CEPI which aims to accelerate development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines.

The COVAX facility is designed to bolster procurement of promising COVID-19 vaccines to ensure the ‘best possible prices, volumes and timing for all countries’.

“We have seen tremendous willingness from donor governments to support equitable access, particularly to developing countries – and it is incredibly heartening to see the private sector join in this effort,” said Seth Berkley, chief executive officer of Gavi.

“We encourage other vaccine manufacturers to work with us towards the shared global goal of finding solutions for this unprecedented pandemic,” he added.

The rollout of the AZ/Oxford vaccine follows the WHO’s recommendation of the jab for use in adults of all ages earlier this month.

The WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (Sage) backed use of the jab in adults, including those aged over 65, despite some EU countries having ruled out giving the vaccine to people in this age group.

The Sage panel also recommended that the vaccine should be administered as two doses, given eight to 12 weeks apart.

AZ/Oxford’s vaccine, unlike mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine candidates from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, can be stored, transported and handled at standard refrigerator temperatures (+2°-+8° C) for at least six months.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

3rd March 2021

From: Marketing, Healthcare

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