Nearly 30 generic drugmakers in Asia, Africa and the Middle East will make cheap versions of Merck & Co’s COVID-19 pill, under a landmark U.N.-backed deal to give poorer nations wider access to a drug seen as a weapon in fighting the pandemic.

Poorer nations during December 2021 rejected more than 100 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines distributed by the global program COVAX, mainly due to their rapid expiration date, a UNICEF official said on January 13.

Merck & Co. signed a licensing agreement with the United Nations-backed Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) that will allow more companies to manufacture generic versions of the company’s experimental oral antiviral Covid-19 treatment, the U.S. drugmaker and the organization announced on Oct. 27.

A World Health Organization (WHO) committee said on July 12 that human genome editing technologies to treat serious disease should be shared more generously, to allow poorer nations to benefit from the highly dynamic scientific field.

The summit of the Group of Seven industrialized nations in southwest England saw global leaders pledging at least 1 billion Covid-19 vaccines for underdeveloped countries and struggling nations.

The United States on June 10 raised the pressure on other Group of Seven (G7) leaders to share their vaccine hoards to bring an end to the pandemic by pledging to donate 500 million doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to the world’s poorest countries.

The Biden administration plans to donate 500 million Pfizer coronavirus vaccine doses to nearly 100 countries over the next two years, three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters on June 9.

COVAX will deliver 237 million doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 shot to 142 countries by the end of May as the World Health Organization-backed program steps up the global roll-out of its vaccine supplies.

The United States under President Joe Biden intends to join the COVAX vaccine facility that aims to deliver coronavirus vaccines to poor countries, his chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, told the World Health Organization (WHO).

Eli Lilly and Co. entered into an agreement with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for potential supply of the company’s experimental antibody treatments for Covid-19 to low and middle-income countries.