WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday a total of 156 economies representing nearly two-thirds of the world's population have joined the COVAX Facility, reports Xinhua.
COVAX facility is an international initiative co-led by WHO and its partners International Vaccine Alliance Gavi and COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) to ensure equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines.
"…156 economies, representing roughly 64 percent of the global population in total, are now either committed to or eligible for the COVAX Facility, with more to follow," the WHO said in a statement.
This includes 64 higher-income economies, which are self-financing in procuring COVID-19 vaccines once available, and 92 low- and middle-income economies eligible for support for the procurement of vaccines through the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) coordinated by the Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a financing instrument aimed at supporting the procurement of vaccines for these countries.
COVID-19 is an “unprecedented global crisis that demands an unprecedented global response, he said.
The WHO chief also unveiled a plan to have two billion doses of coronavirus vaccine available by the end of 2021, reports the UN News.
Working together through the COVAX Facility “is not charity, it’s in every country’s best interest. We sink or we swim together,” said Tedros.
‘Vaccine nationalism’ will prolong pandemic
The WHO chief said commitment agreements have been secured and the COVAX Facility would begin signing contracts with vaccine manufacturers and developers.
The overarching goal of the COVAX Facility is to ensure that all countries have access to vaccines at the same time, and that priority is given to those most at risk, according to the WHO chief.
“The COVAX Facility will help bring the pandemic under control, “save lives, accelerate the economic recovery and ensure that the race for vaccines is a shared endeavour, not a contest that only the rich can win”, he upheld. “Vaccine nationalism will only perpetuate the disease and prolong the global recovery”.
More commitment needed
So far, $3 billion have been invested in the ACT Accelerator – only a tenth of the required $35 for scale-up and impact.
Tedros stressed that $5 billion is needed “immediately to maintain momentum and stay on track for our ambitious timelines”.
“Our challenge now is to take the tremendous promise of the ACT Accelerator and COVAX to scale”, he said, adding, “We are at a critical point and we need a significant increase in countries’ political and financial commitment.”
The WHO chief cited estimates suggesting that once an effective vaccine has been distributed, and international travel and trade is fully restored, “The economic gains will far outweigh” the $38 billion investment required for the Accelerator.
“This isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do”, he spelled out.
“COVAX is now in business”, said Gavi CEO Seth Berkley. “Governments from every continent have chosen to work together, not only to secure vaccines for their own populations, but also to help ensure that vaccines are available to the most vulnerable everywhere”.
‘Great leap’ forward
Meanwhile, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) CEO Richard Hatchett called the international community’s coming together to tackle the pandemic “a landmark moment in the history of public health”.
“The global spread of COVID-19 means that it is only through equitable and simultaneous access to new lifesaving COVID-19 vaccines that we can hope to end this pandemic,” he said.
“Countries coming together in this way shows a unity of purpose and resolve to end the acute phase of this pandemic. Today, we have taken a great leap towards that goal, for the benefit of all”.
Global Coronavirus Situation
The confirmed COVID-19 cases have exceeded 31.1 million globally as of Tuesday morning, according to data of John Hopkins University.
Besides, over 962,000 deaths have been recorded globally.
Meanwhile, more than 21.3 million people made recovery from the virus infection, according to the latest tally.