The G20 Pledge Drive

Tuesday, May 25, 2021
Weekly COVID Vaccine Research Update

rome
High-income country confirmed dose total: 5.93 billion
Upper-middle-income country total: 1.82 billion
Lower-middle-income country total: 959.6 million
Low-income country total: 270.2 million
COVAX total: 1.96 billion
Total worldwide confirmed purchases of Covid-19 vaccines:

10.9 billion doses

INSIGHTS

The G20 Pledge Drive

Author: Andrea Talor

The G20 met today in Rome for a Global Health Summit and vaccine equity was at the top of the agenda. According to Reuters, the resulting “Rome Declaration” calls for voluntary licensing and technology transfers to increase production of Covid-19 vaccines globally. The declaration also reportedly mentioned the important role of the ACT-Accelerator (of which COVAX is one pillar) but did not commit to funding it (the ACT-Accelerator still needs $19 billion to reach its goal).

A flurry pledges were made by G20 members and vaccine makers today in the wake of the summit. The most consequential include:

  • Pfizer-BioNTech pledged to provide 1 billion of their mRNA vaccine in 2021 to low- and middle-income countries, with another 1 billion to follow in 2022. The doses will be shared with low-income countries “at cost” and with middle-income countries at half the market rate for wealthy countries.
  • The European Union (EU) pledged to send 100 million doses in 2021, including 30 million each from France and Germany. Germany also pledged another 100 million euros to fund COVAX.
  • The EU further committed to investing 1 billion euros to build vaccine manufacturing hubs in Africa, to support a distributed network of manufacturing globally and move Africa toward independence in vaccine supply.
  • Johnson & Johnson finalized their existing MOU to supply 200 million doses of the Janssen vaccine to COVAX in 2021.
  • China pledged $3 billion in aid to developing countries to support Covid-19 response, as well as recover, over the next three years.

The focus on 2021 vaccine deliveries in tandem with a longer-term plan to develop manufacturing capacity is encouraging. But this is still too little, too late.

Together with several other centers and organizations, we authored an open letter to the US government at the beginning of this week. We proposed five specific actions that the US can take to actively promote vaccine equity in the pandemic:

  1. Designate a leader to coordinate the US global response
  2. Share as many vaccine doses as possible, as quickly as possible
  3. Support expanded manufacturing capacity including short-term increases to serve immediate global needs and longer-term investments in regional manufacturing hubs in low- and middle-income countries
  4. Support vaccine distribution and delivery infrastructure in low-income countries
  5. Lead development and implementation of a 5-year plan to build sustainable long-term manufacturing capacity in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

The same day, the US pledged to share 80 million doses by the end of June and we expect more will come, as US supply begins to outpace demand.

INTERESTING TRENDS

Significant updates, news, and trends we saw last week:

  • Please see above for news coming out of the G20 summit today.
  • We have received a number of messages over the past week about GC Pharma and Moderna. GC Pharma, in South Korea, has an agreement to import and distribute 40 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine, which just became the fourth vaccine to be approved in the country. We erroneously indicated that GC Pharma was also contracted to manufacture Moderna’s vaccine, based on early press reports. It now looks nearly certain that Samsung will be chosen as Korea’s manufacturing partner for Moderna. Thank you to everyone who contacted us about this issue. Please keep helping us to correct and fill in gaps in the vaccine manufacturing data. 
  • WHO released a statement this week after expert review of the risk of blood clots from the Janssen (J&J) vaccine, concluding that the benefit of vaccination outweighs the risk of blood clots and recommending that countries conduct risk-benefit analysis that includes mortality from Covid-19 as well as availability of alternate vaccines.
  • Emergent’s manufacturing site in Baltimore (US) remains closed after a batch of Janssen’s (J&J) vaccine was contaminated with materials from the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. US production of J&J is currently on hold while a US Congressional subcommittee investigates Emergent’s record.
  • Serum Institute of India released a media statement this week that indicated they are not likely to export doses to COVAX or any countries before the end of 2021.
  • The UAE announced they will provide booster shots (or third doses, depending on what you want to call them) of Sinopharm six months after the second dose.  
  • This opinion piece by Prashant Yadav in the New York Times explains how we became so dependent on India to make vaccines and what we can do about it now.
  • Hungary has opted out of future EU vaccine purchases, including the latest purchase of up to 1.8 billion doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The Hungarian government reported that they were confident in their current supply.
  • India and Pfizer have come to an impasse over Pfizer’s indemnity clause stalling negotiations for vaccine purchase. Pfizer’s indemnity requirements have been the subject of frustration among other country leaders earlier this year and caused some countries to walk away.

 

For more information on our research on Covid-19 vaccine supply, please see https://launchandscalefaster.org/COVID-19.