GENEVA -- Two Chinese pharmaceutical companies will provide 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines immediately to participants of the COVAX project, announced the global Vaccine Alliance Gavi on Monday.
The Chinese Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines have been approved earlier this year by the World Health Organization (WHO) for emergency use.
Gavi announced in a press release that it had signed advance purchase agreements with Sinopharm for its "BBIBP-CorV" inactivated virus vaccine and with Sinovac for its inactivated virus vaccine "CoronaVac".
The agreements, which come at a time when the Delta variant of the virus is posing a rising risk, will begin to make 110 million doses immediately available to participants of the COVAX Facility, the international vaccine supply and distribution facility co-led by WHO, Gavi and other partners, read the press release.
According to the press release, 60 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine will be made available from July through this October, and 50 million doses of Sinovac vaccine will be made available from July through September this year.
In addition, Gavi said that it has the option to purchase a potential total of 170 million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine and up to 380 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine in Q4 of 2021 and in the first half of 2022.
"Thanks to this deal, and because these vaccines have already received WHO Emergency Use Listing, we can move to start supplying doses to countries immediately," said Gavi CEO Seth Berkley.
A source with the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations in Geneva commented Monday that the signing of the agreement between Gavi and the two Chinese vaccine makers is an important move showing China's commitment to treat vaccines as a "global public product."
"The Chinese government has been actively encouraging and supporting Chinese vaccine research and development companies to participate in the COVAX to provide vaccines to developing countries," the diplomat said, adding that China is willing to continue to work together with all parties to promote the fair distribution of vaccines and make positive contributions to global solidarity in the fight against the epidemic.