WHO chief makes last push for countries to join multilateral COVID-19 vaccine effort

17 September 2020

Countries which have not signed on to a global mechanism that has pledged to provide fair and timely access to a COVID-19 vaccine, are urged to do so before Friday, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) told a virtual meeting of Member States, held on the eve of the deadline. 

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reminded participants that so far, more than 170 countries have expressed interest in joining the COVAX Global Vaccines Facility

It is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and WHO. 

“I urge those countries that have not yet joined COVAX to do so by tomorrow’s deadline for submitting your commitment agreements to Gavi”, Tedros said on Thursday. 

The COVAX Facility aims to deliver two billion doses by the end of next year. Last month, there were nine vaccines in its portfolio and another nine under evaluation. 

The WHO chief underlined his agency’s support for efforts to develop a vaccine to defeat the coronavirus disease.   

Cases near 30 million 

As of Thursday, there were more than 29.7 million cases worldwide, including more than 937,000 deaths.  

“Vaccines will be a vital tool for bringing the pandemic under control. But we have no guarantee that any one vaccine now in development will work”, Tedros told the meeting. 

“The more shots we have on goal, the higher the chance we will have a very safe and very efficacious vaccine. That is why we are working to foster global solidarity and collaboration in vaccine research.” 

Tests, treatment, vaccines for all 

The COVAX Facility is one of four pillars under the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator which aims to speed up the development and production of tests, medicines and vaccines that will be available to all people, everywhere. 

The ACT-Accelerator was launched in April and so far, has received around $2.7 billion towards meeting the goal of producing the two billion vaccine doses, as well as 245 million treatments and 500 million tests. 

Last week, UN Secretary-General António Guterres appealed for a “quantum leap in funding” to meet the $35 billion still needed.   

 

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