CEPI launches COVAX Marketplace to speed up global access to COVID-19 vaccines


The world is a long way from getting out of the coronavirus pandemic just yet. While many countries are taking great leaps in getting their citizens vaccinated, it makes only a small proportion compared to what the world needs to successfully fight away the virus.

In regards to making the vaccines available for all, the international Covid-19 vaccine program backed by the World Health Organization has set up a marketplace to address supply chain bottlenecks that are hampering efforts to vaccinate the world.

the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and COVAX partners are launching an innovative ‘marketplace’ to accelerate the global production of COVID-19 vaccine doses for COVAX by matching suppliers of critical inputs with vaccine manufacturers who urgently need them to produce vaccines for fair and equitable distribution through COVAX.

This initiative is a key deliverable of the COVAX Manufacturing Task Force, which is co-led by COVAX and industry partners.

CEPI hopes to make it easier for suppliers to reallocate unused materials, including inputs from vaccines that fail to gain regulatory approval. The platform is also expected to improve access to surplus stock at manufacturers that do not usually make vaccines.

In its role as facilitator, CEPI said it would priorities requests from vaccine makers that already have ordered from Covax and WHO emergency use listing for their shots.

CEPI will identify matching offers and requests and connect potential matches, prioritizing based on objective criteria including whether the manufacturer has a COVAX advance purchase agreement and WHO EUL in place, as well as dose volumes and delivery timings.

In the past year unprecedented efforts by vaccine manufacturers and suppliers of vaccine components have aimed to triple previous annual vaccine output, scaling up to produce an estimated 11 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021.

As a result of this historic scaling up, bottlenecks are affecting the global supply chain leading to acute shortages of vital supplies which are preventing COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers from operating at full capacity. This is delaying vaccine production and contributing to inequity.

Richard Hatchett, chief executive of CEPI, who previously advised the White House under former US presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama, said shortages of critical supplies had stopped vaccine production lines around the world from operating at full capacity.

“Optimizing the use of scarce resources that may otherwise be sitting idle — by matching buyers and sellers around the globe — could contribute to improving the global supply of vaccines through Covax,” he said.

The new COVAX Marketplace is designed to address short-term bottlenecks by facilitating access to supplies needed to produce COVID-19 vaccines intended for distribution through COVAX.

The Marketplace is expected to improve the free flow of critical COVID-19 vaccine supplies by, providing suppliers with a platform to allocate and reallocate unused materials.

Mobilizing idle stock from vaccines and candidates that fail prior to gaining regulatory approval – as well as from those that might scale down their production in the future, mobilizing potential and surplus stock from manufacturers with non-vaccine activities.

Sai Prasad, President of Developing Country Vaccine Manufacturers’ Network, said, “Within a year and a half into this pandemic we now have several safe and effective vaccines with demonstrated evidence in real world settings. Industry from both developing and developed worlds have shown leadership in product development and large-scale manufacturing, resulting in more than 3 billion doses manufactured.

“While this is a successful outcome for most infectious diseases, it is clearly not enough to address the global public health crisis caused by this pandemic. We now need to scale up at a rapid speed to reach a production capacity of more than 10 billion doses annually,“ he added.

The COVAX Marketplace launching today, on 15 July, is an initial version that aims to respond quickly to immediate market needs and bottlenecks.

It will launch with approximately 10 – 15 participants, comprising COVAX vaccine manufacturers and suppliers of the key materials which have been identified as being most urgently needed.

This would provide a platform to resolve supply bottlenecks that could extend beyond COVID-19 vaccines to other lifesaving therapies and vaccines that are being impacted by the current supply situation.