- Currently, a total of 191 vaccine candidates are under development against the deadly coronavirus infection, and ten are in the late stages of clinical trials. However, the way emerging COVID-19 vaccines will be prioritized and distributed is yet not clear.
- The COVAX Facility, coordinated by major global organizations, was developed to provide fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccine.
- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has signed agreements with test manufacturers to ensure availability of innovative tests for US$5 maximum for low-income and middle-income nations.
- These agreements shall make available to low and middle-income countries, almost 120 million antigen RDTs (Ag RDTs) over six months.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly 33.25 million individuals, including ~1 million deaths, as reported to the WHO as of 5:08 PM CEST on 28 September 2020. Many healthcare companies are engaged in the development of vaccines, treatments, and COVID-19 testing kits to prevent and reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
There is a total of 191 vaccine candidates under development against the deadly coronavirus infection, with ten of them in the late stages of clinical trials.
Vaccine candidates under pre-clinical and clinical development according to the latest landscape provided by the WHO on 28 September 2020:
However, the way emerging COVID-19 vaccines will be prioritized and distributed to those who need them is still not clear. Economies all over the world are participating at their level to ensure they get access to the vaccine(s). The equitable access of the COVID-19 vaccine should be a priority as no one is safe until everyone is safe.
COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization and Deployment
An unprecedented effort is underway for rapidly developing COVID-19 vaccines, with several healthcare companies, universities, institutes, and government agencies seeking to compress the duration of vaccine manufacturing that usually needs at least numerous years. Developing COVID-19 vaccine is supported by an extraordinary public and private investments as well as by government’s backing like Operation Warp Speed (OWS).
COVAX facility for fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccine
The COVAX facility is developed for the fair and equitable access of COVID-19 vaccine. 92 economics from the middle-income and low-income group would join 64 members of the Facility and will be entitled for support for vaccine procurement via the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
COVAX is a critical component of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. The ACT Accelerator is an international partnership to speed-up manufacturing as well as ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, as well as vaccines.
COVAX is led by the coalition of the WHO, CEPI, and Gavi, and intends to fast track the development and production of COVID-19 vaccines, and to ensure reasonable and impartial access for each country of the world.
Partnership to Deliver 120 million COVID-19 rapid tests for low-income and middle-income nations
On 28 September 2020, the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator disclosed multiple agreements to confirm the availability of high-quality and reasonably-priced COVID-19 antigen rapid tests for nations in the low to middle-income category.
Organizations that are a part of the milestone agreement include the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Global Fund, the WHO, Unitaid, and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics.
The full access package, as per the WHO, comprises policy guidance on antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests usage and manufacturer volume assurances for low-income and middle-income nations. Moreover, the package would include funding to aid governments to implement the tests with an initial procurement fund worth approximately US$50 million.
ACT’s new tools to fight the pandemic
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has implemented independent volume guarantee agreements with SD Biosensor and Abbott, two RDT (rapid diagnostic test) producers.
The WHO disclosed that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation had signed contracts with two test manufacturers SD Biosensor and Abbott to make sure the innovative tests are available for as low as US$5 for low-income and middle-income nations.
These two agreements shall make available ~almost 120 million antigen RDTs (Ag RDTs) for low and middle-income countries over six months.
For increasing the Ag RDTs, US$50 million were made available initially by the Global Fund from the COVID-19 Response Mechanism to provide the opportunity to nations to buy a minimum of 10 million new rapid tests at the secured cost. Additionally, with the first orders anticipated to be placed this week via the shared procurement mechanism of the Global Fund.
Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator’s latest step is for manufacturing, procuring as well as distributing critical new tools to fight against the ongoing pandemic.
Chief Executive Officer of CHAI, Dr Iain Barton, stated-
The WHO also stated that new tests are required immediately to address the enormous unmet testing needs worldwide.