BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - China's Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm Group agreed to supply their Covid-19 vaccines to the Covax programme, giving a much needed boost to a global distribution effort that has fallen short of its initial targets.
Sinopharm will provide 60 million doses from July through October, according to the vaccine alliance Gavi, which purchased the shots on behalf of Covax. Gavi has the option to acquire an additional 110 million doses later.
Beijing-based Sinovac also agreed to supply Covax with as many as 380 million doses.
"The agreements, which come at a time when the Delta variant is posing a rising risk to health systems, will begin to make 110 million doses immediately available to participants of the Covax Facility, with options for additional doses," Gavi said in a statement on Monday (July 12).
The initiative, backed by groups including the World Health Organisation, was set up last year to facilitate equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines but has faced a number of challenges, shipping about 102 million doses so far to dozens of countries around the world.
The programme aims to deliver 1.8 billion doses by early 2022.
Many nations are counting on Covax after falling behind wealthier governments in the bid to vaccinate their populations.
Moderna in May agreed to provide as many as 500 million doses of its shot to Covax, but only a small fraction of the shipments are due to arrive this year.
Both Sinovac and Sinopharm's vaccines are based on an inactivated form of the coronavirus and were cleared for emergency use by the WHO earlier this year.
Both have already been widely distributed across the world after China struck bilateral deals, mostly with developing countries.