COVAX vaccine initiative secures $2bn to support poor nations

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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COVID-19 Vaccine Preparation
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Officials of COVAX, a global initiative led by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and GAVI Alliance has updated that the initiative has been able to exceed its interim target of raising more than $2 billion to buy and distribute COVID-19 doses for poorer countries.

GAVI Alliance, a member of the COVAX initiative stated that the funds for an advance market commitment (AMC) will allow the coalition to buy an initial one billion vaccine doses for 92 eligible countries that would not otherwise be able to afford them.

Speaking at a media briefing, GAVI’s CEO Seth Berkley remarked that “we’ve seen sovereign and private donors from across the world dig deep and help meet this target” while adding that the initiative would need more as there was an “urgent need” to also finance treatments and diagnostics.

Dr. Berkley observed that the initiative will still need $3 billion towards diagnostics and $6.1 billion for therapeutics by the end of 2021 along with another $5 billion to procure COVID-19 vaccine doses as they come through the development and are approved by respective regulators.

Dr. Berkley stated that the vaccine developer duo of U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and Germany-based BioNTech, who has earlier this week reported that their COVID-19 vaccine candidate was 90% effective in initial trials, has expressed an interest in supplying doses to the COVAX initiative.

“We continue to advance negotiations with a number of manufacturers in addition to those we’ve already announced who share our vision of fair and equitable distribution of vaccines,” the GAVI chief added.

Earlier, the initiative got a much-need shot in the arm after the European Union increased its contribution to COVAX to touch $591 million.