Peru, like all countries around the world, is making efforts to get the COVID-19 vaccine doses for its population —over 18 years old— in order to control the spread of the pandemic.
To access them, the Peruvian State has applied three purchasing methods: direct negotiation with laboratories, participation in the COVAX Facility mechanism, and conduct of clinical trials in the country, according to the Ministry of Health
Last August, the Government created the Multisectoral Commission
in charge of taking the necessary actions for the development, production, purchase, and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Such commission is made up of officials from the Ministries of Foreign-Affairs, Economy-Finance, and Health; the National Council for Science and Technological Innovation (Concytec); the Social Health Insurance System (EsSalud); the Universities of Cayetano Heredia and San Marcos; as well as representatives of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.
Negotiating with laboratories
For several months, the commission has held direct talks with various laboratories developing vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, which are at different levels of development.
So far, Peru has exchanged technical information with 20 pharmaceutical companies, signed confidentiality agreements with 13 of them, and inked non-binding agreements with 10.
Moreover, the country has signed a binding agreement with Pfizer to acquire 9.9 million doses of its vaccine
. However, this one will not be the only one, since the negotiations with other laboratories such as Sinopharm, Moderna, Sinovac, Gamaleya, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, Covaxx, Arcturus, and AstraZeneca are still underway.
The second purchase alternative is the COVAX Facility coalition, a global cooperation mechanism seeking to speed up the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines and ensure that every country can access them in a fair and equitable manner, no matter their wealth. Its goal is to immunize 20% of the world's population.
COVAX Facility is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance), and the World Health Organization (WHO)
. This alliance has a portfolio of nine candidate vaccines, with a further nine under evaluation.
Peru confirmed its participation in the COVAX Facility and, in September, signed a commitment agreement for the acquisition of 13.2 million doses of vaccines, for which it paid S/75.55 million (around US$21 million) in said month.
Clinical trials in Peru
The third option to access COVID-19 vaccines
is the conduct of Phase 3 clinical trials with Peruvian volunteers. Under this modality, the host country has the possibility to access more flexible terms and better purchase prices with the laboratories performing the trials, as long as they get the final authorization.
The Chinese laboratory Sinopharm began its clinical trials in September, in cooperation with Cayetano Heredia and San Marcos universities. At first, it requested authorization to conduct the trials on 6,000 volunteers and, in October, it decided to double the number.
Johnson & Johnson (United States) started its clinical trials this month with 3,500 volunteers, but other laboratories like AstraZeneca (United Kingdom), Imperial College (United Kingdom), and Curevac (Germany) have expressed the same intention.