165 countries engage in COVID-19 global access facility

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By: Kazeem Biriowo

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says no fewer than 165 countries have engaged in COVID-19 vaccine global facility access.

It said so far, 75 countries have shown interest in joining its COVAX facility meant to provide global access to a COVID-19 vaccine.

The health body in a statement uploaded via its website on Thursday said the 75 countries would finance the vaccines from their own public finance budgets and would partner up to 90 lower-income countries that could be supported through voluntary donations to Gavi’s COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).

“Together, this group of 165 countries represent more than 60 per cent of the world’s population. Among the group are representatives from every continent and more than half of the world’s G20 economies,”it said.

It said the COVAX is the only truly global solution to the COVID-19 pandemic for majority of countries, whether they can afford to pay for their own doses or require assistance.

“It means receiving a guaranteed share of doses and avoiding being pushed to the back of the queue, as we saw during the H1N1 pandemic a decade ago.

“Even for those countries that are able to secure their own agreements with vaccine manufacturers, this mechanism represents, through its world-leading portfolio of vaccine candidates and means of reducing the risks associated with individual candidates failing to show efficacy or gain licensure,”it said.

The COVAX Facility was described as a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines.

Co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO, working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, it said the facility aims to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.

“It will achieve this by sharing the risks associated with vaccine development, investing in manufacturing upfront so vaccines can be deployed at scale as soon as they are proven successful.

“It will also pool procurement and purchasing power to achieve sufficient volumes to end the acute phase of the pandemic by 2021,”it said.

WHO noted that the goal of COVAX is to by the end of 2021, deliver two billion doses of safe, effective vaccines that have passed regulatory approval and/or WHO prequalification.

“These vaccines will be delivered equally to all participating countries, proportional to their populations, initially prioritising healthcare workers then expanding to cover 20 percent of the population of participating countries.

“Further doses will then be made available based on country need, vulnerability and COVID-19 threat.

“The COVAX Facility will also maintain a buffer of doses for emergency and humanitarian use, including dealing with severe outbreaks before they spiral out of control,” the statement further read.

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