In addition to spearheading efforts to develop a vaccine to fight COVID-19, the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by number of doses produced and sold globally, will provide ten million doses of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, which helps to prevent severe pneumonia, every year to lower-income countries for the next decade. This has been decided under a new supply agreement with the UNICEF, that helped dramatically decrease the price of pneumonia vaccine for those nations.
“Pneumonia is the biggest single killer of children, claiming the life of a child every 39 seconds. By being able to provide this quality-assured pneumococcal conjugate vaccine at such an affordable price, we can save millions of children’s lives,” Director of UNICEF’s supply and procurement headquarters, Etleva Kadilli, said.
The Pune-based Serum Institute of India is a leading manufacturer of immunobiological drugs, including vaccines. Lower-income countries across the world will now be able to access life-saving pneumococcal conjugate vaccines, which protect against the leading cause of pneumonia, for USD 2 per dose, thanks to the supply agreement between UNICEF, Vaccine Alliance Gavi’s procurement partner and the Serum Institute of India.
The supply agreement is the 8th to take place under the Vaccine Alliance’s AMC mechanism, and the first to include a developing country manufacturer. Under the agreement, SII will provide 10 million PCV doses to Gavi-supported countries each year for the next ten years.
The pneumococcus bacterium is the leading cause of severe pneumonia and is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Most of these deaths occur in lower-income countries and include a disproportionate number of children under the age of two, as per UNICEF.
Estimates indicate that more than 225 million children will have been vaccinated, and that over 700,000 deaths will have been prevented by the end of 2020. With the new supply agreement, AMC will be closing this year having facilitated the entry of the new manufacturer to the market as well as a record-setting low price for Gavi-supported countries that will result in an estimated millions of dollars in savings for both Gavi and lower income countries’ vaccine budgets, the UNICEF said.