August 24, Monday, the WHO said some 172 countries are engaging with COVAX facilities designed to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
But, more fundings is needed and countries need to now make binding commitments.
WHO said countries wishing to be part of the Global COVAX Plan have until August 31 to submit expressions of interest, with confirmations of intention to due by September 18, and initial payments due by October 9.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said the facility was critical to ending the COVID-19 pandemic, and would not only pool risk for countries developing and buying vaccines, but also ensure prices are kept “as low as possible.”
“Vaccine nationalism only helps the virus,” Dr. Tedros said in a media briefing. “The success of the COVAX facility hinges not only on countries signing up to it but also filling key funding gaps.”
COVAX is co-led by the Gavi vaccines alliance, the WHO, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and is designed to guarantee equitable access globally to COVID-19vaccines once they are developed and authorized for use.
It currently covers nine candidate COVID-19 vaccines and its aim is to secure supplies of and deliver two billion doses across countries that sign up by the end of 2021.
“Initially, when there will be limited supply (of COVID-19 vaccines), it’s important to provide the vaccine to those at highest risk around the globe,” Dr. Tedros said.
He said this included health workers on the front lines of the pandemic, who were “critical to saving lives and stabilizing the overall health system”.