The vaccine distribution is part of a global initiative that grants equal access to Covid-19 vaccines in countries that have been severely impacted.
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Moderna said in a statement on Monday that it will allocate 34 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to developing countries during the fourth quarter of 2021, as part of the COVAX global initiative that ensures that the Covid-19 vaccine is accessible to struggling countries regardless of income.
The initiative is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, the World Health Organization and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. Per the supply agreement, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has the option to obtain 466 million doses in 2022.
The news comes in the wake of skyrocketing Covid-19 cases and deaths in India and Brazil.
The U.S. State Department and the CDC recently assigned India a Level 4 travel advisory and urged Americans to return home when it’s safe enough to do so, according to the department’s post on Twitter. India has had at least 300,000 daily Covid-19 cases within the past week. Only 9% of the country’s population has received the first dose of the vaccine, Reuters reported.
India is now short on medical supplies and beds for Covid and non-Covid patients, the U.S. Embassy in India said in a recent health alert.
“We recognize that many countries have limited resources to access COVID-19 vaccines,” Moderna’s CEO Stéphane Bancel said in a statement. “We support COVAX’s mission to ensure broad, affordable, and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and we remain committed to doing everything that we can to ending this ongoing pandemic with our mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.”
The two-dose Moderna vaccine has been approved for use in Israel, Canada, the European Union, the UK, Switzerland, Singapore, Qatar and Taiwan, with other countries currently reviewing it for authorization. It received FDA approval in the U.S. in December.
Moderna is currently working on producing a virus variant-specific booster vaccine that would work against the new variant identified in South Africa.
Worldwide Covid-19 cases reached 152.9 million and over 3.2 million deaths, according to the latest data by John Hopkins University.