A Chinese biotech start-up developing a protein-based Covid-19 vaccine has signed an advance purchase agreement to supply up to 414 million doses for global use by next year. Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a public-private partnership, announced the deal with Clover Biopharmaceuticals on Wednesday on behalf of the Covax Facility, an initiative that aims to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines for low and middle-income countries. Should the vaccine be approved by the World Health Organization for emergency use, Chengdu-based Clover will initially provide 64 million doses this year. Gavi also had the option to buy up to 350 million doses next year and vaccines that were updated for variants in the future, it said in a statement. China’s Sinovac set to start making Covid-19 jabs at Egyptian plants “The pandemic continues to evolve, and to be best prepared, Covax’s actively managed, diverse portfolio will be critical to meeting countries’ needs, and protecting against risks such as regulatory delays, variants, and supply constraints,” said Seth Berkley, Gavi’s chief executive. “Today’s agreement with Clover Biopharmaceuticals is yet another important step in that direction.” It is the first Chinese-made Covid-19 vaccine that has been officially named as a supplier to the WHO-backed Covax Facility. Earlier this month, Sinopharm, which gained WHO emergency use listing for its vaccine in May, produced 10 million doses to be donated to Covax. Another Chinese vaccine producer Sinovac, which obtained emergency use listing earlier this month, is still in negotiations. China’s foreign ministry has previously said that several firms are talking to Gavi, and the ministry supports such “communication and cooperation”. The Clover vaccine targets a part of the coronavirus’s spike protein that helps bind it to the host cell. Small-scale phase 1 human trials were held in Perth, Western Australia last June and reported encouraging results in a paper published in The Lancet in February. In March the company announced that larger scale, late-stage trials, involving more than 22,000 participants in Latin America, Asia, Europe and Africa had started. CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations which manages Covid-19 vaccine research and development for Covax, funded the trials for Clover. Chinese firm puts Covid-19 vaccine to landmark test in New Zealand Joshua Liang Guo, Clover’s chief executive, said the company was “grateful for the support from Gavi, CEPI and other Covax partners in our joint pursuit of supporting global equitable access of Covid-19 vaccines and helping protect at-risk groups in participating countries”. Clover said it was expecting to receive a significant upfront payment, a payment upon producing positive phase 2 and 3 data, then additional advance payments upon Gavi exercising options for doses to be delivered next year. In March, Liang told People’s Daily that the company’s production facility in eastern Zhejiang province could make more than a billion doses a year. Gavi is overseeing a portfolio of vaccines for the Covax Facility and had already signed agreements with eight vaccine manufacturers, including AstraZeneca-Oxford, Janssen, Moderna, Novavax and Pfizer-BioNTech. Its ultimate intention is to have 10 to 12 vaccines in its portfolio for use in different situations.