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New York, Aug 29 (Canadian-Media): The global pandemic has already caused the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and disrupted the lives of billions more.
As well as reducing the tragic loss of life and helping to get the pandemic under control, introduction of a vaccine will prevent the loss of US$ 375 billion to the global economy every month.
Global equitable access to a vaccine, particularly protecting health care workers and those most-at-risk is the only way to mitigate the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.
COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.
The ACT Accelerator is 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.
CEPI. Image credit: Twitter handle
CEPI is leading COVAX vaccine research and development work, which aims to develop three safe and effective vaccines which can be made available to countries participating in the COVAX Facility. Nine candidate vaccines are currently being supported by CEPI; seven of which are currently in clinical trials. Governments, vaccine manufacturers (in addition to their own R&D), organisations and individuals have committed US$ 1.4bn towards vaccine R&D so far, but an additional US$ 1bn is urgently needed to continue to move the portfolio forward.
“In the scramble for a vaccine, countries can act alone – creating a few winners, and many losers - or they can come together to participate in COVAX, an initiative which is built on enlightened self-interest but also equity, leaving no country behind,” said Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI in a news release. “Only by taking a global view can we protect those most at risk around the world from the terrible effects of this disease. COVAX can deliver the vaccines that could end the pandemic, but it needs countries to step forward both to join the COVAX Facility, and also to address the serious funding shortfalls, including for R&D. The decisions that are taken now about COVID-19 vaccines have the power to change our future. We must be courageous and ambitious in striving for a multilateral solution.”
About 172 countries are participating in COVAX, a global initiative aimed at working with vaccine manufacturers to produce COVID-19 vaccines, Director General World Health Organisation Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus made this known to reporters on Monday.
COVAX's goal is to deliver by the end of 2021 two billion doses of safe, effective vaccines that have passed regulatory approval and/or WHO prequalification.
Equal distribution of these vaccines would be offered to all participating countries, proportional to their populations, initially prioritising healthcare workers then expanding to cover vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.
Other criteria would be considered would be country need, vulnerability and COVID-19 threat.
A buffer of doses would also be maintained by the COVAX Facility for emergency and humanitarian use, including dealing with severe outbreaks before they spiral out of control.