BENGALURU (Sept 29): Serum Institute of India will make up to 200 million Covid-19 vaccine doses for poorer countries, including India, next year, as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and GAVI vaccines alliance have doubled their funding, the company said today.

The extra funds will help Serum boost manufacturing of the vaccine candidates from AstraZeneca plc and Novavax Inc, for delivery under the COVAX scheme as early as the first half of 2021.

The collaboration takes forward an initial agreement signed in August by Serum, GAVI, and the Gates Foundation for 100 million doses to be priced at a maximum of US$3 each.

The total funding provided is now US$300 million, and the expanded collaboration also has an option for the provision of additional doses as needed.

The so-called COVAX plan, co-led by the World Health Organization and GAVI, aims to deliver two billion vaccine doses around the world by the end of 2021. More than 150 nations have joined the plan, though China and the United States have not signed up.

The global death toll from Covid-19 passed one million today, according to a Reuters tally.

India, which leads the world in the daily average number of new infections reported, saw its coronavirus case tally rise to 6.15 million as of today.