India pledges $15 million to global vaccine alliance as AstraZeneca announces licensing deal with Serum Institute

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LONDON: Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged $15 million to Gavi, the vaccine alliance, at its global virtual pledging conference as AstraZeneca announced it had agreed a licensing deal with the Serum Institute of India to produce one billion doses of Oxford University’s Covid-19 vaccine (if it works) for lower-income countries.
At the live-streamed summit, held Thursday, $8.8 billion was raised from countries around the world to vaccinate millions of children against infectious diseases such as polio, diptheria and measles in poor countries between 2021 and 2025. The Covid pandemic has disrupted many immunisation programmes, putting hundreds of millions of children at risk.
The US pledged $ 1.16 billion, whilst the UK, which hosted the summit, remained the world’s leading donor to Gavi, pledging £1.65 billion over the next five years. Saudi Arabia pledged $150 million, China pledged $20 million, the European Commission pledged €300 million, Japan $300 million, and Australia pledged 300 million Australian dollars.
“India stands in solidarity with the world in these challenging times,” Modi said. “Gavi is not just a global alliance, it is also a symbol of global solidarity and a reminder that by helping others we can also help ourselves. We understand the importance of immunisations. One of the first programmes launched by my government was Mission Indradhanush. We are the world’s foremost producer of vaccines, we are fortunate to contribute to the immunisation of 60% of the world’s children. India recognises and values the work of Gavi. That is why we became a donor to Gavi by still being eligible for Gavi support. Our support to Gavi is not only financial, India brought down the global price of vaccines. Our proven capacity to produce quality medicines and vaccines at low cost and our own experience in rapidly expanding immunisation and our scientific talent are all at the service of humanity. You can count on India’s support.”
Pascal Soriot, chief executive of AstraZeneca, said he expected to know by August if the Oxford vaccine candidate worked. “Vaccines are difficult to make at scale and success is not guaranteed. Through our partnership with the Serum Institute, we know the Oxford Covid-19 vaccine will reach millions of people in developing countries. Our goal is to leave no one behind.”
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said that in responding to the sudden onslaught of Covid-19 “China has put people first”. “We brought the virus under effective containment but the battle is not over yet. No country can tackle disease on its own,” he said. “China will do its best to help developing countries bolster their response to the Covid-19 and push forward trials of vaccines to facilitate research outcomes. We are working round the clock in vaccines and treatments.”
US President Donald Trump said: “Coronavirus has shown there are no borders, it doesn’t discriminate, it is mean and nasty. We will work hard and strong and good luck. Let’s get the answer.”

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