Assistant Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, says work is under way to develop the first public tender process that will facilitate bids from manufacturers to supply countries with coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines.
Speaking during PAHO’s COVID-19 digital briefing on Wednesday (November 25), Dr. Barbosa said the process is being spearheaded by PAHO and UNICEF, which have been designated to pilot the vaccine deployment programme under the World Health Organization (WHO) COVAX Facility.
The Facility is designed to accelerate equitable access by countries globally to appropriate, safe and efficacious vaccines.
Dr. Barbosa said the COVAX Facility “works with all manufacturers” and, in that regard, will provide a basket of potential COVID-19 vaccine suppliers from which member countries can access doses.
“So, we will have several options to offer our countries of the manufacturers that can [provide] the best combination of a very effective, safe and affordable vaccine… for [each member] country,” he added.
More than 184 countries globally, including Jamaica, have joined the COVAX Facility.
Dr. Barbosa reiterated that some countries have opted not to join COVAX, and have entered into bilateral agreements with vaccine manufacturers, “in keeping with their own decision”.
He emphasised, however, that the Facility is a “very important alternative” as “any manufacturer, anywhere in the world, that has a vaccine that is safe, effective and efficient, can participate in and offer the best solutions through COVAX”.
Dr. Barbosa also advised that additional manufacturers are expected to submit proposals to supply COVID-19 vaccines.
He said these will be made available to member countries, in keeping with the potential options that are being made available to them.
There are currently some 10 vaccines in the Facility’s portfolio, including three that are at advanced stage-three clinical trials.
These are candidates submitted by Pfizer Incorporated, Moderna, and AstraZeneca.