GAVI – The Vaccine Alliance says that manufacturing capacity is one of the major constraints facing the COVAX facility, which is a global initiative aimed at equitable access and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

The Vaccine Alliance co-leads the COVAX facility along with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

The COVAX facility is set to distribute around 35 million doses to more than 50 countries in the coming week while comparatively richer countries and regions streak ahead in their distribution and administration of vaccines.

By the end of this week close to 100 million vaccine doses will have been administered in the United States of America (USA) alone, more than 22 million in the United Kingdom (UK), more than 300 million doses in the wider European region.

The stress-test for the multilateral system remains acute even though it has met its forecast timelines with the first shipments of COVID-19 vaccines arriving in West Africa in late February.

The SABC’s Sherwin Bryce-Pease spoke to Managing Director Thabani Maphosa:

Gavi’s Managing Director of Country Programmes Thabani Maphosa confirmed that COVAX donor pledges of some 6.3 billion dollars had reduced their shortfall to around 2 billion dollars as concern shifts from financing to manufacturing and supply.

While negotiations continue around Intellectual Property waivers at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to speed up access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics, Maphosa points to manufacturing capacity as the immediate impediment to wider access.

The WHO recently lauded a partnership between Johnson and Johnson and rival pharmaceutical company Merck, to collaborate on manufacturing J&J’s vaccine in an effort to speed up global vaccine capacity and supply.

This is a race not only against time, but against mutations with the emergence of virus variants that are likely to test longer-term vaccine efficacy.

COVAX to deliver at least 330 million COVID vaccines in the first half of 2021:

INFOGRAPHIC: How vaccine licensing works

The infographic below shows the clinical trials that a vaccine goes through and how it is licensed: