GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Pfizer have has promised to provide 180 million pneumococcal vaccine doses each to an innovative programme designed to tackle a leading cause of childhood death in developing countries.
The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) is extending earlier deals to purchase doses of Pfizer's Prevenar 13 and GSK's Synflorix at a heavily discounted price of $3.50 a shot between now and 2023.
Last year, GSK and Pfizer said they would each contribute 300 million doses of their vaccines to GAVI, a public private partnership launched in 2000 to fund vaccines for children in the world's 70 poorest countries.
The original agreement provided enough vaccines for immunisation programmes in 19 countries, with the latest series expanding coverage to 37 countries. To date 13 countries already have ongoing vaccination programmes thanks to the GAVI initiative.
The shots are supplied under the innovative Advance Market Commitment (AMC) scheme. The scheme sees manufacturers offer discounts that still allow them to cover costs while increasing access to life-saving medicines. GAVI has said its pneumococcal vaccination programme could avert up to 7 million childhood deaths.
"By stepping up our contribution of Synflorix to GAVI, we can help ensure there is enough pneumococcal vaccine available to meet the increasing demand across the world," said Jean Stephenne, chairman of GSK Biologicals.
Echoing that sentiment, the president of Pfizer's vaccines business, Mark Swindell, said: "Public-private partnership programmes like the AMC are vital to accelerating the availability of affordable vaccines, faster than ever before, to those children who are most vulnerable."
More than 90 per cent of deaths due to pneumococcal disease occur in developing countries where children frequently do not have access to pneumococcal vaccination or early treatment, said GSK in a statement.
GAVI also has programmes ongoing to boost vaccination against rotavirus, rubella, human papillomavirus (HPV), polio, hepatitis B, measles, meningitis, Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib) and yellow fever.