Following the World Health Organization (WHO) emergency use listing of the AstraZeneca/University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine this week, the COVAX initiative announced it intends the bulk of the first deliveries to occur in March.
COVAX is finalizing the first and second quarter allocations of the vaccine to participants in the COVAX facility, a joint project of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), and WHO. The new WHO emergency use listing applies to two versions of the vaccine: one produced by AstraZeneca-SK BioScience in the Republic of Korea and the Serum Institute of India.
With UNICEF acting as the key delivery partner, the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine versions will now be made available for global rollout.
“In preparation for this unprecedented global rollout, COVAX partners have been working closely with all Facility participants for many months, providing support for regulatory and indemnity and liability issues as well as the submission of completed NDVPs,” COVAX said in a statement. “Throughout this process, Facility participants have been moving at speed to ensure all preparations are in place for the first deliveries.”
To guarantee doses can be delivered in this first allocation round, COVAX stressed that several actions will be key. Any participants in the Facility must give national regulatory authorization for the vaccines, which will be aided by WHO’s emergency use listing. All Facility participants will need to have signed indemnity agreements with the manufacturers to receive doses — a process COVAX is aiding. Eligible economies must also submit National Deployment and Vaccination Plans through the COVID-19 Partners Platform that COVAX has reviewed and validated.