A leading Covid-19 vaccine candidate will cost Kenya Sh300 per dose, one manufacturer has said. 

An individual might need one or two injections for a year-long protection against the coronavirus.

The ceiling price was given by the world’s biggest vaccines manufacturer, Serum Institute of India, who have been contracted to supply developing countries with the University of Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine as soon as it is prequalified this year or in 2021. 

SII has been contracted by Gavi, the Geneva-based alliance that is leading a global initiative to secure Covid-19 vaccines for developing countries. 

Gavi has already listed Kenya among the 92 countries that will benefit from its ongoing negotiations with different manufacturers. 

SII said it set a ceiling price of $3 (Sh300) per dose because of investments by Gavi partners such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

SII has so far been contracted to manufacture the AstraZeneca candidate, which is in the last stages of testing, and another by US biotech firm Novavax.

The World Health Organization says more than 160 candidate vaccines are in progress around the world, with 29 in human trials.

“Too many times we’ve seen the most vulnerable countries left at the back of the queue when it comes to new treatments, new diagnostics and new vaccines,” Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, said in a statement.

“This new collaboration is an important step in our efforts to prevent this from happening, helping to ensure we have additional manufacturing capacity to begin producing doses for every country, not just the wealthy few. We now need other vaccine manufacturers to step up and follow SII’s lead,” Berkley added.

SII will manufacture and deliver up to 100 million doses around the world under the Gavi Advance Market Commitment for Covid-19 Vaccines (Covax) initiative, as early as the first half of 2021.

“To ensure maximum immunisation coverage and contain the pandemic, it is important to make sure that the most remote and poorest countries of the world have access to affordable cure and preventive measures,” SII CEO Adar Poonawalla, said in a statement.

The Gavi initiative, which is currently seeking at least $2 billion in initial seed funding, will meet part of the cost of procurement for the vaccine doses.

The beneficiary countries will foot the rest of the cost.

Gavi said it has a long history of successfully partnering with Indian manufacturers, to produce vaccines that protect against meningitis, severe diarrhoea, pneumonia and measles.

The Geneva-based alliance already buys most childhood vaccines for Kenya.

“Researchers are making good progress on developing safe and effective vaccines for Covid-19,” Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said in a statement.

“But making sure everyone has access to them, as soon as possible, will require tremendous manufacturing capacity and a global distribution network.”