COVAX says to supply 1.8 bln COVID vaccine doses to poor in '21, warns of uncertainties

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LONDON, Jan 21 (Reuters) - The COVAX vaccine sharing platform designed to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 shots said on Thursday it aimed to deliver 1.8 billion doses to poorer countries in 2021 and hoped to fulfil supply deals for wealthier ones in the second half of the year.

But COVAX, which is co-led by the GAVI vaccine alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and others, said there were many uncertainties affecting the procurement and supply of COVID-19 vaccines, and terms of the deals were "subject to change".

The 1.8 billion doses would be supplied via an advance market commitment (AMC) to 92 eligible countries and would correspond to approximately 27% coverage of populations in those countries, GAVI said in an updated forecast for COVAX.

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"Our forecasting indicates that we should fulfil the requests for vaccine placed by self-financing participants in the second half of 2021," it said.

Some supply deals were still in negotiation, it said, and some of the candidate vaccines have yet to be approved for use by medicines regulators or the WHO. In many cases, manufacturing of the vaccines had yet to reach full scale, it said.

"There are many uncertainties affecting the supply of COVID-19 vaccines in 2021, not least around manufacturing capacity, regulation, funding availability, final contract terms and the readiness of countries themselves to begin their national COVID-19 vaccination programmes," the COVAX forecast statement said.

"Manufacturing productivity will be influenced by multiple factors, which will in turn influence volume and timing of supply."

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Reporting by Kate Kelland, Editing by Alison Williams

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