Vaccine Group Hits $2 Billion 2020 Goal for Low, Middle Income Nations

A program that aims to supply low- and middle-income countries with Covid-19 vaccines said it has raised more than $2 billion, though it needs another $5 billion for next year.

The vaccine initiative hit its 2020 funding target the same week Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE announced positive late-stage trial results showing their shot protects most people from the illness. The European Union, France, Spain, South Korea and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation pledged a combined $360 million, according to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the group leading the effort.

Those developments offer “a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel,” Seth Berkley, chief executive officer of Gavi, told reporters on a call Friday. “The science is moving forward and so is the finance needed to ensure that the science will be available to all.”

Despite the promising signs, Berkley called for caution, saying that important questions remain on efficacy in different groups, duration of protection, safety and production.

Gavi said 94 high-income countries have joined the Covax alliance, which aims to boost access to vaccines in 92 low- and medium-income countries. The program expects more deals in the coming weeks and months following agreements with companies including Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Aurelia Nguyen, managing director of the Covax facility, said on the call.

“Not only is it likely we will need different vaccines for different contexts, there’s also no guarantee any one vaccine will succeed,” she said. “Perhaps more importantly, no single manufacturer has the capacity today to supply the global volume required to ensure that no country is left behind.”

As optimism grows that vaccines will arrive next year, health advocates and poorer nations are concerned that wealthier countries will monopolize supply, which is bound to be limited initially. The U.S. and Europe are in line to get the first doses of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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