The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday that developing countries, including many in Africa, would have access to successful coronavirus vaccines if more nations support COVAX financing initiative. The initiative needs about $32 billion to be fully funded.
The Gavi Advance Market Commitment for COVID-19 Vaccines (Gavi Covax AMC) was launched last June at the Global Vaccine Summit 2020.
The new financing instrument is aimed at incentivizing vaccine manufacturers to produce sufficient quantities of eventual COVID-19 vaccines, and to ensure access for developing countries.
“Today’s launch moves us one step closer to the essential vision of equitable access for all,” Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the former Nigerian minister of finance, and now chair of the Gavi Board said during the launch on June 4. “By de-risking the cost of investing in high volumes of manufacturing against an unknown outcome – and making sure those investments are made now – the Gavi Covax AMC increases the likelihood that when we have a successful vaccine or vaccines, it will be available in sufficient quantities and affordable to developing countries.”
At a press briefing in Geneva on Thursday, the WHO’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said any country that supports the COVAX financing initiative has a better chance of getting a successful COVID-19 vaccine, a scheme she said would guarantee fast and equitable access globally to COVID-19 vaccines.
Soumya Swaminathan said the initiative needs about $32 billion to be fully funded, and for the successful vaccines to be accessible to about 90 countries around the world.
There is no guarantee at the moment that a coronavirus vaccine would be successful, but there are growing fears that wealthier countries may monopolize an eventual coronavirus vaccine by striking a deal with drugmakers to secure a successful vaccine for their own citizens first rather than for the entire world.
COVAX, which is co-led by the GAVI vaccines alliance, the WHO and the CEPI Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, aims to to deliver two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021.
The Gavi Covax AMC was launched with an initial goal of raising US$ 2 billion; enough for Gavi-supported countries to immunise health care workers as well as high-risk individuals, and create a flexible buffer of doses to be deployed where needed most.
It is not be a stand-alone financing instrument but rather represents the first building block in broader efforts to develop a COVID-19 Global Vaccine Access Facility (Covax Facility) aimed at ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, at all levels of development, that wish to participate.