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GSK makes landmark pricing agreement for rotavirus vaccine, Rotarix, for use with children living in humanitarian crises

As announced today by WHO, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Save the Children and UNICEF, GSK has committed to supply its rotavirus vaccine, Rotarix, through the Humanitarian Mechanism for civil society organisations serving the vaccination needs of refugee and other emergency situations. GSK has committed to supply Rotarix at its lowest global price for the tube presentation, already supplied to UNICEF for use in Gavi supported immunisation programmes.

The agreement builds on GSK’s existing commitment to the Humanitarian Mechanism for its PCV (pneumococcal conjugate vaccine), Synflorix, at the lowest global price for its 4 dose vial presentation, also supplied to UNICEF for use in Gavi programmes. GSK has been providing Synflorix though the Mechanism since 2017.

Thomas Breuer, Chief Medical Officer, GSK Vaccines said:

“We are delighted to become the first company to offer a rotavirus vaccine through the Humanitarian Mechanism for use with some of the children most vulnerable to severe diarrhoeal disease. Adding Rotarix to our existing commitment to offer Synflorix, our pneumococcal vaccine, through the Mechanism is an important further milestone in our efforts to improve access to medicines and vaccines for people who need them most around the world.”

About the Humanitarian Mechanism
The Humanitarian Mechanism was founded in 2017 through a partnership of UN and civil society organizations – MSF, Save the Children, UNICEF and WHO – to enhance access to vaccines in emergencies by civil society organizations in countries that are not otherwise eligible for Gavi support.

The Humanitarian Mechanism partners invite NGOs and UN agencies working in refugee and IDP camps and emergencies to leverage the Mechanism so they can access the available rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines.

Since 2017, nearly 1 million doses of pneumococcal vaccine have been approved for use through the Mechanism in 12 countries: Algeria, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Greece, Kenya, Lebanon, Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan and Syria. The pneumococcal vaccine protects against childhood pneumonia, also a leading cause of childhood deaths during emergencies.

(Source: GSK, 2021)

Sudan receives first delivery of COVID-19 vaccines with over 800,000 doses

Sudan has become the first country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to receive vaccines against COVID-19 from the COVAX facility today. Over 800,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine touched down at the Khartoum International Airport. The vaccines were delivered with UNICEF’s support through COVAX, a coalition co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi, the Global Vaccines Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), working on the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to countries regardless of their income.

The delivery follows the arrival of 4.5 Metric Tons of syringes and safety boxes, part of a Gavi-funded and supported global stockpile, that UNICEF delivered on behalf of the COVAX Facility last Friday 26 February 2021, critical for the safe and effective vaccination. WHO has worked with national authorities to put a vaccination strategy in place that includes training vaccinators, ensuring vaccine safety, and surveillance for adverse effects.

The initial consignment of vaccines received today in Sudan will support the vaccination of health care workers and people above 45 years old with chronic medical conditions, living in areas with high transmission or anticipated high transmission, marking the first phase of the nationwide vaccination campaign.

By vaccinating Sudan’s health care workers first, they can continue providing life-saving services and maintain a functional health care system. It is critical that health care workers who protect the lives of others are protected first.

Dr. Omer Mohamed Elnagieb, Sudan’s Minister of Health, appreciated all partners who worked together for Sudan to become the first country across the region to receive vaccines against COVID-19 through the COVAX Facility.

“The vaccines are a critical part of controlling the spread of the virus in Sudan and eventually return to normalcy,” said Dr. Omer Mohamed Elnagieb. He urged those eligible to register and get vaccinated as soon as they get an appointment.

Globally and in Sudan, COVID-19 has disrupted delivery of essential services and continues to claim lives and disrupt livelihoods. As of 1 March 2021, Sudan had over 28,505 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 1,892 associated deaths, since the first COVID-19 positive case was announced on March 13, 2020.

“This is great news. Through the COVAX Facility, Gavi ensures that all countries have an equal opportunity to access these life-saving vaccines. We continue to work towards leaving no one behind with immunization,” said Jamilya Sherova, Senior Country Manager for Sudan at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

“Our hope in recovery from the pandemic is through the vaccines,” Abdullah Fadil, Representative of UNICEF Sudan, affirmed. “Vaccines have reduced the scourge of numerous infectious diseases, saved millions of lives and have effectively eliminated many life-threatening diseases,” he continued.

Dr. Nima Saeed Abid, World Health Organization Representative in Sudan, confirmed that the vaccines received today are safe and have been approved through WHO’s Emergency Use Listing Procedure for use in Sudan and other countries. He applauded the Government of Sudan, the Federal Ministry of Health and partners for the great milestone that will ensure the people of Sudan are protected from the deadly disease that continues to spread.

“The World Health Organization is pleased to be part of this milestone for the COVID-19 response in Sudan. Vaccines work and vaccines should be for all,” stressed Dr. Nima. “But we should always remember that vaccinations only work as part of a comprehensive approach – they are only one tool in our arsenal against the virus and are most effective when combined with all other public health and personal prevention strategies.”

With Gavi support, UNICEF and WHO will support the Government of Sudan to roll out the vaccine campaign and organize nationwide vaccination drives to reach all eligible persons with vaccines.

(Source: UNICEF, 2021)

Johnson & Johnson Statement on Collaboration with Merck

We are pleased to collaborate with Merck as part of our global network to manufacture our COVID-19 vaccine. Merck has a long history of vaccine expertise, and we expect this manufacturing arrangement will enhance our production capacity so that we can supply beyond our current commitments.

Since January of 2020, we have been working directly with governments, health authorities and other companies to help end this pandemic. Merck is the ninth manufacturer to join our global network and this significant collaboration will further enable us to deliver our COVID-19 vaccine worldwide. We will continue to invest in collaborations so we can bring our full resources and best scientific minds to combat this pandemic.

(Source: J&J, 2021)