World

WHO, GAVI working for early delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to all countries

December 19, 2020
A global initiative is working with governments and manufacturers, COVAX aims to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.
A global initiative is working with governments and manufacturers, COVAX aims to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.

GENEVA — The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI) on Friday announced plan for delivery of coronavirus vaccines to all countries, including the developing ones, in the first quarter of 2021.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros A. Ghebreyesus said that the together with partners, including GAVI, CEPI and UNICEF, WHO established the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, which includes COVAX.

A global initiative is working with governments and manufacturers, COVAX aims to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.

"Today, we are proud to announce that COVAX has secured access to almost two billion doses of several promising vaccine candidates," he said in opening remarks at a COVAX press briefing.

"These unprecedented agreements mean that all 190 countries and economies participating in COVAX will be able to access vaccines to protect vulnerable groups in their populations during the first half of next year.

"This is fantastic news, and a milestone in global health. I would like to thank and congratulate all our partners in COVAX, as well as AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson and the Serum Institute of India for their efforts so far," Dr. Ghebreyesus pointed out.

"For most of the past year we have been talking to world leaders and vaccine developers to ensure that once vaccines were available, they were available equitably to all countries.

"Just this week I have spoken with CEOs of pharmaceutical companies, and met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels, to discuss this urgent moral, economic and public health imperative.

"WHO and our COVAX partners are working non-stop to start vaccination early next year.

“At the same time, our message to all countries is that vaccines will complement, not replace, the existing effective tools we have for suppressing transmission and saving lives," he affirmed.

"This is a time for taking comfort that the end of the pandemic is in sight, but taking care that we do not let down our guard.

"We are all responsible for taking the measures to keep ourselves and each other safe, including during this holiday season," WHO chief added.

"Meanwhile, COVAX affirmed it has agreements in place to access nearly two billion doses of several promising vaccine candidates, and laid the groundwork for further doses to be secured through contributions from donors.

"These agreements mean that all COVAX's 190 participating and eligible economies will be able to access doses to protect vulnerable groups in the first half of 2021," it said in a press release.

"At least 1.3 billion donor-funded doses will be made available to 92 economies eligible for the Gavi COVAX AMC, targeting up to 20 percent population coverage by the end of the year.

"Funding raised in 2020 and early pledges toward 2021 targets, alongside these agreements, offer clearest pathway yet to ending the acute phase of the pandemic globally by the end of 2021, according to the statement.

The new deals include the signing of an advance purchase agreement with AstraZeneca for 170 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford candidate, and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Johnson & Johnson for 500 million doses of the Janssen candidate, which is currently being investigated as a single dose vaccine.

These deals are in addition to existing agreements COVAX has with the Serum Institute of India (SII) for 200 million doses — with options for up to 900 million doses more — of either the AstraZeneca/Oxford or Novavax candidates, as well as a statement of intent for 200 million doses of the Sanofi/GSK vaccine candidate.

"Securing access to doses of a new vaccine for both higher-income and lower-income countries, at roughly the same time and during a pandemic, is a feat the world has never achieved before — let alone at such unprecedented speed and scale," said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI, which leads on procurement and delivery for COVAX.

"COVAX has now built a platform that offers the world the prospect, for the first time, of being able to defeat the pandemic on a global basis, but the work is not done: it's critical that both governments and industry continue to support our efforts to achieve this goal," Dr. Berkley added. — KUNA


December 19, 2020
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