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COVAX says it’s negotiating with new vaccine suppliers

The COVAX vaccine-sharing facility expects to have 1.9 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available by the end of this year, including 1.5 billion earmarked for the poorest countries, its managing director said on Tuesday.

Aurelia Nguyen was addressing a meeting of the World Health Organization (WHO) as COVAX seeks to put early supply difficulties behind it.

She said the GAVI vaccine alliance, which runs COVAX with the WHO, expects a “very strong increase” of vaccines available towards the fourth quarter, as supplies from new manufacturers come onstream.

COVAX, which has distributed some 95 million doses to 134 countries since late February, has had a rocky start, mainly because of the suspension of Indian vaccine exports as well as supply-chain bottlenecks which forced many poor countries to freeze inoculation programmes.

WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan told the same meeting that COVAX should have delivered 300-400 million doses by now.

“Onwards, we are still actively building our portfolio and looking at further volumes for near-term agreements that are under negotiations,” Nguyen added, without giving details.

COVAX has in total secured some 5.6 billion doses for this year and next from nine suppliers, of which 3.2 billion are through legally binding signed contracts, Nguyen added.

Included in that figure are donations of doses from wealthy countries.

Further clarity is also being sought by COVAX on hundreds of millions of additional donations pledged last month by leaders of the Group of Seven advanced economies, a WHO document showed.COVAX says it’s negotiating with new vaccine suppliers. Reuters