Press release |

MSF response to Gavi’s intent to purchase Sanofi-GSK COVID-19 vaccine candidate for the COVAX Facility

3 min
Photograph by Garvit Nangia
Staff checking on patients. These are usual rounds where doctors check on the progress of the patient accompanied with a counsellor to get insights into their interactions with the patient as well.

Geneva, 28 October 2020 – As Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, signs an intent to purchase 200 million doses of vaccine for the COVAX Facility from Sanofi-GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) demands transparency from these two pharmaceutical corporations around price, supply and distribution of the potential future vaccine, if proven safe and effective.

Despite a handful of companies’, including GSK's, promise to sell COVID-19 vaccines at a no-profit price during the pandemic, no company has yet shared their costs around research and development (R&D), clinical trials or manufacturing. Transparency of this information is key so that the public can assess the prices that are set. 

MSF is concerned that access to any successful vaccines may be limited by narrow political or commercial interests, especially in light of the advance purchase deals being struck primarily by high-income countries. Today, thirteen percent of the world has bought up more than 50% of the volume of the leading candidate doses. Sanofi and GSK – which have an estimated production capacity of 1.6 billion vaccines by the end of 2021 – have already signed bilateral deals for over one billion vaccines with the US (up to 600 million doses), UK (60 million doses), EU (300 million doses) and Canada (72 million doses).

The COVAX Facility includes an Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) for 92 developing countries. It is critical that these countries are not left at the back of the queue waiting for vaccines while high-income countries with existing bilateral deals are given privileged access.  


Kate Elder, Senior Vaccines Policy Advisor, MSF Access Campaign:

“The COVID-19 pandemic may be new, but the concerns around access to COVID-19 vaccines are not, and it is critical that the pharmaceutical industry is transparent and accountable to the public during these unprecedented times. Pharmaceutical corporations Sanofi and GSK must sell their vaccines at-cost and open their books to show the public exactly how much it costs to make the vaccine. There is no room for secrets during a pandemic and past experience tells us that we can’t take pharma at their word without data to back up their claims. 

Global equitable access to affordable future COVID-19 vaccines is essential to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. But with over one billion doses, or nearly 65% of Sanofi and GSK’s production capacity, already tied up in advanced deals with rich countries including the US, UK, Canada, and the EU, MSF is concerned that global solidarity is being undermined. If history is a lesson for what we can anticipate for access to future COVID-19 vaccines, we’re worried that pharmaceutical corporations’ actions will lead us to a situation where someone who’s not at high risk of COVID-19 in a developed country will get access to a vaccine before a frontline healthcare worker in a developing country. ”