As India battles a new wave of coronavirus cases, the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to lower-income economies participating in the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) facility will face delays during March and April, informs the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO has stated that the Indian government and Covax remain in discussions to ensure some supplies are completed during March and April.
As per the WHO, according to the agreement between the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (Gavi) and SII, which included funding to support an increase in manufacturing capacity, SII is contracted to provide Covax with the SII-licensed and manufactured AstraZeneca -Oxford vaccine (known as Covishield) to 64 lower-income economies participating in the Gavi Covax AMC (including India), alongside its commitments to the Indian government.
So far Covax has been supplied with 28 million Covishield doses and was expecting an additional 40 million doses to be available in March 2021 and up to 50 million doses in April 2021.
The WHO has stated that Covax has notified all affected economies of potential delays. SII has pledged that, alongside supplying India, it will prioritize the Covax multilateral solution for equitable distribution.
“Participating economies have also received WHO guidance on optimizing the national deployment doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine in a constrained supply environment,” said the WHO.
Separately, the Covax facility has informed participants’ allocated AstraZeneca-manufactured doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine that some of the first deliveries due in March are now set to take place in April.
In this early phase of Covid-19 vaccine roll-out, vaccine manufacturers need time to scale and optimize their production processes. AstraZeneca, which uses a novel supply chain network with sites across multiple continents, is working to enable initial supply to 82 countries through Covax in the coming weeks.