By Opija Raduk

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, has announced new investments and initiatives to expand access to vaccines in lower-income countries and enhance global health security.

At its recent board meeting, Gavi approved the introduction of a six-in-one (hexavalent) vaccine and considered a long list of potential vaccines for future inclusion in its programs.

The hexavalent vaccine combines the pentavalent vaccine, which protects against several diseases including diphtheria and tetanus, with the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV).

The investment aims to improve disease protection and contribute to polio eradication efforts. Gavi will support countries transitioning from the pentavalent vaccine to the new hexavalent vaccine and work with manufacturers to ensure market sustainability.

The board also reaffirmed the alliance’s commitment to COVID-19 vaccination, pledging support for high-risk groups until 2025.

Furthermore, Gavi approved pilot investments for investigational candidate vaccines against Marburg and Ebola Sudan, which could be used in outbreak response. This decision reflects its focus on pandemic preparedness, prevention, and response.

“With more than 1 billion unique children reached, one eighth of humanity has now been protected by the Vaccine Alliance. While it is crucial to acknowledge the achievements of the past, the continued measure of success will be how we build on these experiences to deliver even more impact in the future,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi.

“This week’s decisions by the Board provide us with a clear path towards an Alliance which is even more effective in protecting lives, addressing the consequences of climate change, and harnessing innovation to support countries.”

Over the years, Gavi has expanded its vaccine portfolio, now supporting vaccines against 19 diseases compared to just three at its inception in 2000. The Board discussed plans to introduce additional vaccines, including those against hepatitis E, dengue, tuberculosis, and COVID-19, in the coming years.

The Board also approved the establishment of pilot stockpiles, or “global virtual pooled inventories,” for investigational vaccines against Marburg and Ebola Sudan. This initiative aims to ensure timely response to outbreaks by having reserves readily available.

Additionally, the Board acknowledged the contributions of Dr. Berkley, who will step down as CEO in August 2023. David Marlow, the current Chief Operating Officer, will serve as the Interim CEO.