Multilateral leaders share concerns over vaccine inequity

By Arya M Nair, Official Reporter
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Vaccine Inequity
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The heads of the multilateral world leaders met with the heads of the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), Africa Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to tackle obstacles to rapidly scale-up vaccine availability.

The concerns were reported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank Group (WB), World Health Organization (WHO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) at the third meeting of the Multilateral Leaders Taskforce on COVID-19 (MLT).

The vaccine scarcity has been severe in low- and lower-middle-income countries, particularly in Africa, as noted by the leaders in the latest report, “the global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is progressing at two alarmingly different speeds. Less than 2 percent of adults are fully vaccinated in most low-income countries compared to almost 50 percent in high-income countries.”

These countries do not have access to enough vaccines to reach the global goals of 10 percent coverage in all countries by September and 40 percent coverage by the end of 2021, let alone the African Union’s goal of 70 percent coverage by 2022. This vaccine-inequity crisis is causing a dangerous disparity in COVID-19 survival rates as well as in the global economy, according to the report.

The leaders called on vaccine manufacturers to immediately prioritize and fulfill their contracts to COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) and AVAT, and to provide regular, clear supply forecasts. They also urged G7 and all dose-sharing countries to fulfill their pledges urgently, with enhanced pipeline visibility, product shelf life and support for ancillary supplies, as barely 10 percent of nearly 900 million committed doses have so far been shipped. Further, the group asked countries to eliminate export restrictions and any other trade barriers on COVID-19 vaccines and the inputs involved in their production.

The meeting affirmed to explore financing mechanisms to cover future vaccine needs as requested by AVAT. Further, the leaders stated that they will advocate for better supply forecasts and investments to increase country preparedness and absorptive capacity and continue to enhance its data, to identify gaps and improve transparency in the supply and use of all COVID-19 tools.

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