Moderna halts vaccine supply to COVAX in favor of new agreement for omicron-adjusted shots in 2023

Moderna and COVAX have canceled their existing COVID-19 vaccine supply agreement, replacing it with a deal for the company’s variant-busting shot.

Under the new deal, Moderna will supply its updated vaccines to COVAX in 2023 at the lowest price in its tiered pricing structure. The World Health Organization’s COVAX effort was established to provide low-income countries with vaccines at no or low cost.

Moderna has already supplied 70 million vaccines to 92 middle- and low-income countries through the partners' previous procurement deal. Moderna also has donated more than 100 million doses to the effort.

The new deal helps COVAX “adjust its portfolio to current demand," Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, said in a release.

It also reflects the “evolving needs” of countries covered under the COVAX initiative, Gavi said. The organization has reached the point where it can meet all country requests received through its “rolling-allocation” process, it said.

Three weeks ago, Pfizer and BioNTech said they would scale back a previous agreement to supply the U.S. with 1 billion doses of their vaccine for donation at a not-for-profit cost. The new agreement—which comes in response to decreased worldwide demand—calls for the supply of 600 million doses this year.

Since it was established in 2020, COVAX has delivered more than 1.8 billion vaccine doses to 146 countries. Of the 92 countries most in need, more than half have administered two vaccines to more than 50% of their populations.

The largest donations to COVAX have come from governments. The U.S. has supplied 514 million vaccine doses to COVAX and has pledged an additional 386 million to the effort. The EU has provided COVAX 395 million doses, with an added 131 million pledged.

In August, the FDA approved updated bivalent formulations of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to be used as booster shots. The new versions were adjusted to defend against subvariants of omicron.