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Moderna Supplying 500M Vaccine Doses to Covax

Vaccine delivery to Phillipines

Covid-19 vaccine doses delivered through Covax to the Philippines (Unicef/Gavi)

3 May 2021. Moderna Inc. is providing up to 500 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to the Covax Facility, an international project distributing vaccines to low-income countries. The Cambridge, Massachusetts biotechnology company plans to supply the first batch of 34 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Moderna’s vaccine has become one of the key elements for health authorities to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. The vaccine, developed with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases or NIAID, received emergency authorization from the the Food and Drug Administration for adults age 18 and over in December 2020. Since then health agencies in Canada, Israel, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Singapore, Qatar, and Taiwan also authorized the vaccine. World Health Organization added its emergency use listing on 30 Apr.

Moderna develops vaccines and therapies against infectious diseases with a technology that synthesizes messenger RNA, a nucleic acid based on the genetic code from DNA, and used by cells to produce amino acids in proteins for cellular functions. Moderna manipulates the coding region in messenger RNA chemistry to provide instructions for cells to produce proteins with specific medicinal properties.

For protective vaccines, Moderna delivers messenger RNA with instructions for cells to produce proteins with enough resemblance to viruses to generate an immune response, but are still safe for the recipient. In the Covid-19 vaccine, Moderna encodes for the surface protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus’s spike that penetrates and infects cells.

Moderna’s vaccine, as reported by Science & Enterprise in January 2020, received initial funding from Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations or CEPI, a group of public health authorities, companies, and civil organizations. CEPI aims to stop known infectious disease outbreaks, and establish platform technologies that can be activated against previously unknown pathogens. The group also requires its funds recipients to provide for equitable access to vaccines.

Enable vaccine purchases at volume discounts

The Covax Facility, short for Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access, is backed by World Health Organization, European Union, CEPI, and other non-government organizations to provide worldwide equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines. On 20 Jan., in one of its first actions, the Biden administration returned the U.S. to the World Health Organization, reversing a policy of its predecessor, and agreed to take part in Covax.

Covax is designed and led by a group called Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance in Geneva. The program has financial support from 98 countries, with those contributions supporting vaccine distribution to another 92 countries in lower resource regions. Vaccine doses supplied through Covax are made available to the 92 recipient countries through Covax’s advance market commitment mechanism, which uses funds donated from the 98 contributing nations to purchase vaccines at large enough volumes to qualify for discounted prices.

Moderna is offering vaccine doses to Covax at the company’s lowest tiered price. “We recognize that many countries have limited resources to access Covid-19 vaccines,” says Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel in a company statement. “We support Covax’s mission to ensure broad, affordable and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines and we remain committed to doing everything that we can to ending this ongoing pandemic.”

Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, adds in an organization statement, “Expanding and having a diverse portfolio has always been a core goal for Covax, and to remain adaptable in the face of this continually evolving pandemic, including the rising threat posed by new variants.”

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