The distribution of coronavirus vaccines in lower-income countries could get a huge boost soon. On Thursday, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ:BNTX) have agreed to supply a program co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) with their COVID-19 vaccine.
The COVAX program is a group effort coordinated by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The program aims to secure 2 billion doses by the end of this year to protect vulnerable people and frontline healthcare workers in participating countries. All countries are eligible to participate, but the program plans to deliver about 1.3 billion doses to 92 low- and middle-income countries.
Details regarding the number of doses Pfizer and BioNTech have agreed to and the price per dose the COVAX program intends to pay the partners are still unclear. Neither company has officially announced an agreement to supply COVAX, but they’re expected to fill in the gaps on Friday.
This won’t be the first vaccine authorized in some countries to be secured by the COVAX program. In December, the COVAX program entered an advance purchase agreement with AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) for 170 million doses of a coronavirus candidate that has been authorized for use in the U.K. and India. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) also has an agreement with the program to supply 500 million doses of its single-dose vaccine candidate, which is expected to produce late-stage clinical trial data any day now.