COVAX – More than 150 countries engaged in COVID-19 vaccine global access facility :: The Fastest Way Out of the Pandemic

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COVAX – More than 150 countries engaged in COVID-19 vaccine global access facility
:: Seventy-five countries submit expressions of interest to COVAX Facility, joining up to 90 further countries which could be supported by the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC)
:: The COVAX Facility, and the AMC within it, is designed to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for every country in the world, rich and poor, to make rapid progress towards slowing the pandemic
:: Interest from governments representing more than 60% of the world’s population offers ‘tremendous vote of confidence’ in the effort to ensure truly global access to COVID-19 vaccines, once developed

Geneva/London, 15 July 2020 – Seventy-five countries have submitted expressions of interest to protect their populations and those of other nations through joining the COVAX Facility, a mechanism designed to guarantee rapid, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.

The 75 countries, which would finance the vaccines from their own public finance budgets, partner with 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 up to 165 countries represents more than 60% of the world’s population. Among the group are representatives from every continent and more than half of the world’s G20 economies.

“COVAX is the only truly global solution to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “For the vast 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, a means of reducing the risks associated with individual candidates failing to show efficacy or gain licensure.”

The COVAX Facility forms a key part of the COVAX pillar (COVAX) of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO, working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers. COVAX 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, and pooling procurement and purchasing power to achieve sufficient volumes to end the acute phase of the pandemic by 2021.

“This early level of interest represents a tremendous vote of confidence in COVAX and our shared goal to protect people around the globe through the fair allocation of a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI. “COVAX offers an innovative solution to the gravest public health crisis in living memory. It will speed up the availability of safe and effective vaccines through early investment in manufacturing capacity, and maximise the chances of success by backing a broad and diverse portfolio of vaccine candidates. Through COVAX our aspiration is to be able to vaccinate the most vulnerable 20% of the population of every country that participates, regardless of income level, by the end of 2021. Ensuring fair access is not only a matter of equity; it is the fastest way to end this pandemic”

The goal of COVAX is by the end of 2021 to 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% 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 COVID-19 pandemic, like every health crisis, also presents us with opportunities,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, WHO Chief Scientist. “A vaccine that is affordable and accessible to all will help us address systemic health inequalities. We need all countries to support COVAX to achieve this goal and bring an end to the acute phase of the pandemic.”

The success of these efforts will ultimately depend on securing enough funding from governments and commitments from vaccine manufacturers to participate at a scale large enough to deliver a global solution. The formal expressions of interest submitted are non-binding; the COVAX pillar will now begin a process of consultation with all 165 countries, with countries funding vaccines through their own domestic budgets being required to provide an upfront payment and a commitment to purchase doses by the end of August to secure involvement in the COVAX Facility.

Significant progress has been achieved by the COVAX partners to date, with seven of the nine candidate vaccines supported by CEPI already in clinical trials. A memorandum of understanding with AstraZeneca also commits them to supply 300 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to COVAX.

In addition, in June Gavi launched the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), a financing instrument aimed at incentivising vaccine manufacturers to produce sufficient quantities of eventual COVID-19 vaccines to ensure access for developing countries. The Gavi COVAX AMC has already raised close to US$ 600 million against an initial target of US$ 2 billion from high income donors as well as the private sector. Gavi will also work with developing countries to assure readiness of supply and cold chain and training to reach high risk groups.

 

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Project Syndicate
Opinion
The Fastest Way Out of the Pandemic
Jul 15, 2020 Seth BerkleyRichard HatchettSoumya Swaminathan
During the 2009 swine flu pandemic, a few countries cornered the vaccine market, leaving the vast majority of the global population with no vaccine at all until the outbreak was effectively over. This scenario must be avoided at all costs during the current crisis – and, thanks to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility, it can be.

…COVAX employs a radically different approach. In addition to using “push” financing – direct investment in research, development, and manufacturing – it uses “pull” financing, in the form of advance purchase commitments for large numbers of doses upon licensure. This provides powerful incentives for the private sector to support urgent vaccine development.

Moreover, COVAX pools government resources to fund scaling up the most promising candidates even before clinical trials are completed. That way, when approval comes, large quantities of vaccine doses will be ready to go. Already, WHO is working with a range of stakeholders, including member states and civil-society organizations, to develop and implement a mechanism for equitable and fair allocation of vaccine doses, once they become available.

COVAX will support only vaccine candidates that are developed in accordance with the highest possible safety standards. By working with experts around the world to develop target product profiles, share best-practice testing models, facilitate multi-country clinical trials, and promote regulatory harmonization, COVAX will establish a new benchmark for rapid, safe, and efficacious vaccine development and delivery.

We cannot afford to leave our economies on their current path for much longer. As global GDP shrinks – the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank forecast about a 5% contraction in 2020 – poverty and hunger are rising sharply. With the world economy losing more than $10 billion each day, shortening the pandemic by even a few days would more than offset the costs of COVAX. Global collaboration – where risks and benefits are shared equally – has never been a better value proposition.