Coronavirus: Moderna to make up to 110M vaccine doses available to African Union

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Moderna will make up to 110 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine available to the African Union at the company’s “lowest tiered price,” the company said Tuesday.

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In a news release, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based drugmaker said the White House helped to negotiate the deal, under which Moderna would deliver 15 million doses to the region by the end of the year. The company also said it is prepared to deliver another 35 million doses in 2022′s first quarter and 60 million more doses by midyear.

“This is the first step in our long-term partnership with the African Union,” Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement. “We would like to thank the African Union and the White House for helping to make this possible. We believe our vaccine can play an important role in addressing the needs of low-income countries given its combination of high Phase 3 efficacy against COVID-19, strong durability in the real-world evidence, and superior storage and handling conditions. We recognize that access to COVID-19 vaccines continues to be a challenge in many parts of the world, and we remain committed to helping to protect as many people as possible around the globe.”

Natalie Quillian, deputy coordinator of the Biden administration’s coronavirus response, told Reuters that the U.S. government agreed to defer delivery of 33 million Moderna doses it has purchased, giving the African Union a chance to buy vaccines from the company.

The new deal is in addition to Moderna’s previous agreement to supply as many as 500 million doses to the United Nations-backed COVAX program, which many low-income countries rely on to access vaccines, the drugmaker said.

“The company is also working on plans to allow it to fill doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in Africa as early as 2023, in parallel to building an mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility in Africa,” the release said, adding that Moderna “recently announced an investment of up to $500 million to plan to build a state-of-the-art mRNA facility in Africa with the goal of producing up to 500 million doses” annually.

Oxford University’s Our World in Data project reported that so far, 48.7% of the global population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, compared with just 3.1% of the population in low-income countries. In the United States, about 66% of residents have received at least one vaccine dose, compared with fewer than 15% of residents in Egypt, Kenya, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Tanzania, according to the university.

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