The leaders called for additional funds by stressing that the vaccines demonstrate incredible effectiveness at preventing serious disease which can help in evading another COVID crisis. Reiterated that the best way to protect and build on the progress made so far is to help as many people as possible around the world receive their primary vaccination while ensuring an ability to act quickly in response to any future developments of the pandemic. This would be critical not only to protect the health and economies of lower income countries, but also offer protection against continuing waves of virus variants.
Over one billion doses have now been delivered to 144 countries through COVAX since its initiation in the year 2020. 90 percent of the total doses (nearly 900 million) have gone to lower income countries eligible for donor-supported vaccines via the Gavi COVAX AMC.
It was highlighted that the COVAX now has sufficient confirmed supplies to be able to protect approximately 45 percent of the population of AMC economies with the help of existing cash contributions and dose donations from donors. Further funds hereon will be used to provide mechanisms with the flexibility to respond to the needs of individual AMC countries in meeting their national vaccination strategies and adapting these strategies to Omicron and other future variants.
Calling for donations to COVAX, Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance said, “COVAX has delivered more than one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines in just under a year – an unprecedented achievement in global public health given all the well-known challenges that were faced in 2021. I want to thank our donors for making this possible. In 2022, we can help break COVID by adapting our support to ensure doses are used rapidly, get into arms safely, and are responsive to country preferences and coverage targets. This will help the world to reduce pandemic risks and uncertainties.”
In addition to creating a 600 million dose Pandemic Vaccine Pool from the funding, catalytic delivery funding of US$1 billion will be used to get doses into arms rapidly and safely without undermining routine immunization activities. Further US$545 million out of the total raised funds will be used to cover ancillary costs such as syringes, transport and insurance for donations.
Speaking on the targets set for COVAX in the coming year, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said, “As the world enters the third year of the deepest health crisis in a century, it is more urgent than ever that the achievements of science in developing multiple safe and effective vaccines in record time are matched by the same level of determination, innovation and cooperation to reach our shared target of vaccinating 70% of the population of every country by the middle of this year. As the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, COVAX has played a vital role in delivering more than 1 billion doses to countries, but there is still much more work to do. Fully financing COVAX – along with the other pillars of the ACT Accelerator – is essential to facilitate equitable access to lifesaving vaccines, tests and treatments, as well as supporting health systems to turn vaccines into vaccinations and roll out programmes as soon as possible.”
The COVAX alliance has already received initial pledges of US$ 192 million to the set target for 2022. Out of the total donations, a contribution of $66 million has come from the private sector and philanthropists.
Modeling results estimate that the Gavi COVAX AMC can save 1-1.27 million lives in the year 2022 in eligible countries that would otherwise be lost to the pandemic. The economic cost of the pandemic could be reduced by as much as half in some countries if vaccines are rolled out rapidly.