As rich countries hoard potential coronavirus vaccine doses, rest of world could go without

As a result, relatively wealthy nations will likely be able to vaccinate their entire populations, with billions of others relegated to the back of the line. People in low-income countries could be waiting until 2024.

These deals between countries and drug manufacturers, known as advance purchase agreements, are undermining a World Health Organization-linked initiative to equitably distribute vaccines, the study suggests.

“Where we are headed is a situation where high-income countries have enough, and low-income countries just don’t,” said Andrea Taylor, the lead researcher.

Since the vaccine race got underway, experts have warned of the dangers of “vaccine nationalism” and calling for a cooperative approach to vaccine development and distribution.

More than 150 countries, representing a large share of the world’s population, have signed on to participate in the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax, which aims to develop and equitably distribute $2 billion in doses of a vaccine by the end of next year.

Under the plan, both rich and poor countries pool money to offer manufacturers volume guarantees for potential vaccines. The idea is to discourage hoarding and focus on vaccinating high-risk people in every participating country first.

Many wealthy players, including the European Union, Canada and Japan, joined the initiative. But most are backing Covax while also cutting deals directly with manufacturers.

The researchers found that Canada and the United Kingdom have already reserved more than enough potential vaccines to cover their entire populations. The E.U. has also secured hundreds of millions of doses.

These deals make sense from a country perspective, but they undermine cooperative efforts to secure enough doses, particularly for low-income countries, experts said.

“The more that countries hedge their bets and work outside of Covax, the harder it is for Covax to actually deliver on its promises,” said Suerie Moon, co-director of the Global Health Center at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

Rich countries, she said, “are eating up all the supply before Covax can take a nibble.”

The United States did not join Covax, in part because the Trump administration did not want to work with the WHO. The Duke analysis found that the U.S. already has agreements to buy enough doses to cover 139 percent of its population — and could eventually control 1.8 billion doses, or roughly a quarter of the world’s “near-term” supply.

Middle-income countries are also reserving doses. Brazil and India already have secured the rights to enough vaccines to cover about half of their populations, the study noted.

Most low-income countries, by contrast, have little choice but to rely on Covax, which must compete with big players to secure access to vaccines.

Taylor, the lead researcher, stressed that the study offers a “snapshot” of where things stand, not a definitive prediction. Access to vaccines depends in large part on which vaccines prove safe and effective — and that is still very much up in the air.

Another critical question is capacity: How many coronavirus vaccines can the world make in a

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Sanofi, GSK to supply vaccine doses to WHO-backed alliance

PARIS (Reuters) – French drugmaker Sanofi and Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline will supply 200 million doses of their COVID-19 candidate vaccine to a global inoculation scheme backed by the World Health Organization.

There is no internationally-approved treatment against COVID-19, which has killed more than 1.16 million people, and the two companies’ vaccine is still undergoing phase 1 and 2 trials, from which first results are expected by late November or early December.

They said on Wednesday they had signed a statement of intent with vaccine alliance GAVI, which is coordinating the global scheme, known as COVAX.

COVAX, which aims to deliver 2 billion vaccine doses around the world by the end of 2021, has already sealed agreements this year with AstraZeneca and Novavax.

It aims to discourage national governments from hoarding COVID-19 vaccines and to focus vaccinating the most high-risk people first in every country.

More than 180 nations including China have joined the plan but some, including the United States, have opted to stick with their own supply deals.

Sanofi and GSK signed a $2.1 billion deal with Washington during the summer to supply it with more than 100 million doses of the same vaccine, which they hope to present for regulatory approval next year.

The companies also have similar agreements with the European Union, Britain and Canada.

Their candidate vaccine uses the same recombinant protein-based technology as one of Sanofi’s seasonal influenza vaccines. It will be coupled with an adjuvant, a substance that acts as a booster to the vaccine, made by GSK.

Sanofi is also working on another vaccine project with U.S. company Translate Bio that will use a technology known as messenger RNA (mRNA) which instructs cells in the body to make coronavirus proteins that then produce an immune response.

Clinical trials for this project are expected to start in the fourth quarter.

COVAX is co-led by GAVI, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

(Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru, Matthias Blamont in Paris; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and John Stonestreet)

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Sanofi, GSK to provide 200 million Covid vaccine doses to WHO immunization program

A health worker wearing a protective mask works in a lab during clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine at Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida, U.S.

Eva Marie Uzcategui | Bloomberg | Getty Images

European drugmakers Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline will provide 200 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine to the World Health Organization’s global immunization partnership COVAX, which seeks to ensure coronavirus vaccines are distributed equitably across the world, the companies announced Wednesday.

Global health organizations including the GAVI vaccine alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the WHO are leading the COVAX effort, which is focused on first vaccinating the most high-risk people in every country. The deal is contingent on the vaccine winning regulatory approval, the companies said in a statement.

The initiative aims to deliver 2 billion doses of the vaccine by the end of 2021, though it’s now competing for scarce doses of promising vaccines with some wealthy countries like the United States that didn’t join the COVAX facility and procured hundreds of millions of doses on their own.

“Since we started working on the development of COVID-19 vaccines, GSK has pledged to make them available to people around the world,” Roger Connor, president of GSK Vaccines, said in a statement. He added that “this has the potential to be a significant contribution to the global fight against COVID-19.”

More than 180 countries have so far joined COVAX, the companies said. WHO says at least 78 higher-income countries, including China and the United Kingdom have signed on.

The WHO has previously acknowledged that there won’t be enough vaccine doses for everyone in the world once one candidate is authorized for use. The UN health agency has published allocation principles that countries can use to craft a plan for who would first receive the immunization when the country receives doses.

The WHO says it intends for all countries to receive enough doses to vaccinate 20% of their population, excluding countries that request fewer doses than that, before any country receives more doses.

Thomas Triomphe, executive vice president and global head of Sanofi Pasteur, said their provision of doses demonstrates the company’s “commitment to global health and ensures our COVID-19 vaccines are affordable and accessible to those most at risk, everywhere in the world.”

Sanofi and GSK’s vaccine is further behind in clinical development than some of the front-runners like Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, which are all in late-stage trials. Sanofi and GSK said they anticipate results from their phase two trial in early December and will then launch a large phase three trial. The companies plan to request regulatory approval for the vaccine, if the data supports it, in the first half of 2021.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has previously said he’s less concerned with acquiring doses of the first available vaccine and more concerned with acquiring a large amount of doses of all vaccines.

“The first vaccine to be approved may not be the best,” he said last month. “The more shots on

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The Health 202: Hundreds of millions of coronavirus vaccine doses will be ready in early 2021, officials say

“We are on the brink of seeing the fruits of our labor,” said Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer for Operation Warp Speed, the initiative created by the administration to get a safe vaccine approved and distributed as quickly as possible.

The administration is working on two parallel tracks to get a vaccine approved and ready to distribute.

Perna said he, along with Warp Speed chief Moncef Slaoui, recently visited the Tennessee offices of McKesson, the major vaccine distributor that has contracted with the government to head up distribution of eventual coronavirus vaccines.

“At the end of the day I chose [McKesson] because they know how to do it,” Perna said.

Once the Food and Drug Administration approves a coronavirus vaccine for emergency use — expected to happen in late November or early December if trials continue going well — McKesson will partner with FedEx and UPS, along with a number of pharmacies and grocery stores including Walmart, CVS, Walgreens and Kroger, to get the doses shipped around the country, Perna said.

The Defense Department is closely involved in the effort, prompting concerns that an agency not accustomed to delivering vaccines might be charged with the critical task. Perna insisted, however, that the department is helping with logistics and program support — not distribution.

“There will not be this vision some people have of army trucks driving through the street delivering vaccine,” he told listeners on the online forum. “This is not feasible nor the proper way to do this.”

States also have a role to play. They’ve all submitted to the federal government plans for distributing a vaccine, with varying standards for who should get a vaccine first and how quickly the process should move.

New Jersey, for example, wants to administer the vaccine 70 percent of non-pregnant adults within six months. Nebraska laid out two initial phases of vaccine distribution in which the vaccine first goes to medical staff and later to the elderly and people with underlying conditions.

The vaccine news couldn’t come at a more critical time as cases of the novel coronavirus are surging across the country – and public health officials warn things could deteriorate further over the winter. Trump, however, continues to insist the country is “rounding the corner” in the disease as the election approaches next Tuesday, and his chief of staff said this weekend that the virus could only be controlled through a vaccine and therapeutics.

The process is moving with unprecedented speed, but there are plenty of challenges.

For one thing, vaccines require cold storage. Medical professionals distributing a vaccine will also need equipment including needles, syringes, alcohol, pads, bandages and masks.

And government officials say it’s critical to track who is getting the vaccine and where. Five of the six vaccines being developed as part of Warp Speed — excluding the vaccine being developed by Johnson & Johnson — require two doses. People who receive a first dose will need to be given the same vaccine in their second

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