By Herman Opondo
Thanks to the through Gavi’s COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), almost all the African countries now qualify to access COVID-19 vaccines.
In a statement from The GAVI Board yesterday, the arrangement will also cover at least part of the cost. This means that, even if separate bilateral deals with vaccine manufacturers exist, through the Facility countries stand a far better chance of getting access to the vaccine or vaccines that prove to be most effective. The COVAX AMC launched the 4th of June at the Global Vaccine Summit draws from the lessons of the successful Pneumococcal AMC.
“These countries will have limited resources to access future COVID-19 vaccines: it is our duty to support them. Without this support, the majority of the world’s population will continue to suffer from this disease even after we’ve developed a tool to tackle it. We now can stop this from happening,” said Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair of the Gavi Board.
The list of 92 AMC-eligible economies includes all economies with Gross National Income (GNI) per capita under US$ 4,000 plus other World Bank International Development Association (IDA)-eligible economies.
The high- and middle-income economies that have already submitted expressions of interest in the COVAX Facility will need now to enter into a legally binding agreement to purchase doses through the Facility. This commitment will need to be confirmed in the next month by making upfront financial contributions, enabling the Facility to enter into manufacturer agreements for future vaccine supply.
“We now have the framework in place to ensure that every economy, particularly the poorest nations, don’t get left behind in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “This disease has spread at lightning speed across the globe, which means nobody is safe until everybody is safe. That’s why we now need support and vital funding to ensure that, once a safe, effective vaccine is ready, we can work on protecting the world and not just the lucky few. Gavi will work with governments, international organisations, manufacturers and civil society organisations to ensure doses get to those who need them.”
The goal is by the end of 2021 to deliver two billion doses of safe, effective vaccines to all participating countries including the 92 AMC-eligible economies. Once a vaccine has been approved by regulatory agencies and/or prequalified by the WHO, the COVAX Facility will then purchase these vaccines with a goal to try and initially provide doses for an average of 20% of each country’s population, focusing on health care workers and the most vulnerable groups. Further doses will be made available based on financing, country need, vulnerability and potential threat, and a buffer of doses will also be maintained for emergency and humanitarian use.
While close to US$ 600 million has already been raised for the AMC, this innovative financing mechanism requires seed funding of US$ 2 billion before the end of the year to secure and guarantee doses for the 92 AMC-eligible economies. A minimum of an additional US$ 3.4 billion is estimated to be required to procure around one billion doses by the end of 2021.
The Gavi 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.
According to the latest estimates published by WHO, over 16.5 million people have been infected with COVID-19 and over 655,000 people have died from the disease.