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UPDATE 1-GAVI in talks with China's Sinopharm, other vaccine makers for COVAX doses

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·2 min read
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(Adds details, background)

GENEVA, May 10 (Reuters) - The GAVI Vaccine Alliance is in talks with COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers including China's state-owned Sinopharm to expand the COVAX pipeline and secure doses for distribution, a GAVI spokeswoman said on Monday.

Sinopharm received emergency use listing from the World Health Organization (WHO) last Friday, making it eligible for the COVAX programme and bolstering Beijing's push for a bigger role in inoculating the world.

COVAX, run jointly by GAVI and the WHO to provide doses to the world's poorest people, has hit major supply problems. To date the AstraZeneca shot made by the Serum Institute of India account for most doses rolled out, but authorities there have restricted exports because of India's massive epidemic.

"GAVI, on behalf of the COVAX Facility, is in dialogue with several manufacturers, including Sinopharm, to expand and diversify the portfolio further and secure access to additional doses for Facility participants," a spokeswoman told Reuters on Monday in response to a query.

"Following on from the new announcements on Moderna and Novavax, we will continue to provide updates on any new deals in due course," she added, referring to the U.S. vaccine makers.

Novavax Inc said on Thursday it has agreed with GAVI to manufacture and distribute 350 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to countries participating under COVAX.

Moderna will supply 34 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine this year to the COVAX programme, with 466 million available next year, Gavi said last week.

GAVI, appealing for full financing of COVAX, said on Monday that it would require an additional $1.7 billion at the least by June to lock in supplies for 2021 and early 2022.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Jan Harvey and Louise Heavens)