Gavi Summit Raises US $2.4 Billion More For COVAX Global Vaccine Facility & 54 Million More COVID Vaccine Doses
Left to Right, clockwise – Olly Cann, Michael Froman, Seth Berkley, Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao

The WHO-sponsored COVAX facility raised another US $2.4 billion on Wednesday from donors to fund more COVID vaccines for low- and middle-income countries – exceeding their total funding target and bringing the total pledged to the COVAX AMC to US $9.6 billion, following a GAVI COVAX AMC Summit “One World Protected” virtual event.

But the 54 million donations in vaccines that were also offered by rich countries at the event – still fall far short of the 1 billion doses that WHO and other global health leaders say are needed by 1 September to fill immediate needs for fighting the pandemic.

The summit, hosted by the government of Japan and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, garnered donations from nearly 40 governments, the private sector, and foundations.

The donations will enable COVAX to secure 1.8 billion fully subsidized doses of COVID-19 vaccines for delivery to LMICs participating in the COVAX facility.

The vaccines, to be delivered in 2021 and early 2022, will protect almost 30% of the adult population against COVID-19 in these 91 participating countries. 

“Thanks to all our donors, we can now protect not only healthcare workers, the elderly and other vulnerable people but broader sections of the population, increasing our chances further of bringing the pandemic under control,” said Gavi Board Chair Jose Manuel Barroso. 

Donations Bring Hope in Overcoming COVID-19

Japan’s Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide

Gavi has received tremendous support in particular from Japan, which has pledged US $800 million at the summit, making their total contribution to the COVAX AMC US $1 billion. 

Delivering more vaccines through the Gavi COVAX AMC Facility is the key to overcoming this pandemic. Today’s summit has brought hope to the world in both overcoming COVID-19 and building back better,” said Japan’s Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide.

The United States, which hosted the launch of the Gavi COVAX AMC Investment Opportunity in April, reaffirmed its support as a Gavi partner on Wednesday, committing US $4 billion for procurement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines.    

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has also stepped up to support African Union countries with EUR 300 million financing to access vaccines via COVAX. 

According to Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao, Gavi Managing Director of Resource Mobilization and Private Partnerships, Gavi is working with the EIB to leverage access to domestic resources for vaccine doses.

“The key here is that financial innovation needs to continue,” said Saraka-Yao. 

Dose Sharing Boosted, but More Vaccines Needed To Prevent Deadly Mutations

The first shipment of vaccine doses by the international COVAX facility reached Ghana in February

Alongside financial pledges, first dose sharing donations were announced by Belgium, Denmark, and Japan, as well as additional pledges from Spain and Sweden, boosting short-term supplies by over 54 million vaccine doses.  

However, Gavi remains “deeply concerned about the short-term disruptions we face,” said Gavi CEO Seth Berkley, citing the second wave in India that has deeply impacted early secured supply and consumed all of the country’s production, leading to a shortfall of 190 million doses. 

“We need all countries that have doses to share a portion of them with COVAX now, so that we can get them into the hands of those who are most at risk of the virus and help prevent the emergence of more deadly mutants,” said Gavi CEO Seth Berkley. 

The WHO had appealed for vaccine donations last month in the midst of the shortfall, with manufacturers that have reached agreements with the facility – Moderna, Novavax, and Johnson and Johnson, only able to deliver later in the year or in 2022. 

Bilateral Agreements May Undermine Equitable Access

Gavi also addressed the potential that bilateral agreements for donations may undermine COVAX. 

“If we want to get equitable access, the problem is that if countries are picking their favorites, there will be countries that will not be the favorites,” said Berkley. 

“Despite a massive effort to scale up and produce billions of vaccine doses, COVID-19 vaccines currently are not reaching all priority populations worldwide,” said Director General of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) Thomas Cueni, during the summit. 

Gavi does not take into account bilateral donations, so one of the advantages of going through COVAX, is that [doses] can be adjusted to be part of equitable allocation, added Berkley.   

Gavi is currently looking for doses from manufacturers with long shelf-lives and are pre-qualified for use. 

“Speed is the critical issue here and that’s why we’re trying to have a systematic process,” said Berkley, noting the difficulties of getting vaccines without a complex regulatory mechanism.  

Private Sector Crucial in Running Biggest Immunisation Campaign

The private sector is crucial to COVAX’s vaccination campaign.

In addition to government and foundation donors, Gavi emphasized the importance of its private sector partnerships in mobilizing resources towards vaccine equity.  

“The private sector really is in Gavi’s DNA. Of course, there’s funding, there’s reserving, there’s building capacity, but there’s also the process of vaccinating, and then we need the expertise of the private sector,” said Saraka-Yao. 

“This will be critical in running the largest immunization campaign ever.”

Mastercard, alongside existing partners such as, the Visa Foundation, has increased their financial donations. 

The company has pledged US $28 million in a new commitment.  

“We’re not a pharmaceutical company but it’s obvious to us that we thrive when economies around the world thrive, and our business is healthier when people are healthier,” said Vice Chairman and President of Mastercard Michael Froman. 

Image Credits: WHO, Gavi, Jose Manuel Barroso/Twitter, WHO Ghana, Eric Fiegl-Ding/Twitter.

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