February 23, 2024
Health

WHO: Global access to Covid-19 vaccines initiative ends on December 31, 2023

COVAX delivered 2 billion vaccine doses to 146 economies

The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that COVAX, the multilateral mechanism for equitable global access to Covid-19 vaccines launched in 2020, will close on December 31, 2023.

COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, was co-convened by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), UNICEF and the WHO – working in partnership with countries, donors, developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others. Its efforts focused on ensuring all countries could access Covid-19 vaccines, regardless of income level.

2.7 million deaths averted

COVAX has supplied two billion Covid-19 vaccine doses and safe injection devices to 146 economies. Its efforts are estimated to have helped avert the deaths of at least 2.7 million people in the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) low- and lower-middle-income participating economies (lower-income economies) that received free doses through the mechanism, alongside $2 billion in critical support to turn vaccines into vaccinations.

With collaboration from manufacturers, all of COVAX’s advance purchase supply agreements will have been completed or terminated by the end of 2023, except one, where a modest supply volume will continue into the first half of 2024 in support of the new Covid-19 routine immunisation programme.

Drawing on the lessons of the H1N1 pandemic, when the majority of countries missed out on vaccines, COVAX partners advocated from the earliest stages of the Covid-19 emergency that “no one is safe until everyone is safe” – urging the world to place vaccine equity at the heart of the global response, and calling for every country to have at least enough doses to protect those most at risk.

Global unity

By the end of 2020, 190 economies of all income levels had signed agreements to participate in COVAX, making it one of the most significant multilateral partnerships of the 21st century.

By November 2020, it had raised $2 billion towards vaccine procurement. In January 2021, 39 days after the first vaccine administration in a high-income country, the first COVAX-supplied doses were administered in a lower-income country.

“The joint efforts of all partners to ensure an equitable response to the pandemic helped protect the futures of millions of children in vulnerable communities,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.

“We knew that market forces alone would not deliver equitable access to vaccines and other tools,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

“The creation of ACT-A and COVAX gave millions worldwide access to vaccines, tests, treatments and other tools who would otherwise have missed out. COVAX has taught us valuable lessons that will help us better prepare for future epidemics and pandemics.”

COVAX was designed as an end-to-end coordination mechanism encompassing R&D and manufacturing, policy guidance, vaccine portfolio development, regulatory systems, supply allocation and country readiness assessments, transport logistics, vaccine storage and administration, and monitoring country coverage and absorption rates.

Featured image: COVAX partners urged the world to place vaccine equity at the heart of the Covid-19 global response. Image:
Daniel Schludi

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto is an award-winning journalist with wide-ranging Middle East and Asia experience in the tech, space, aerospace, aviation, defence, luxury watchmaking, business, fashion, and automotive verticals. He is passionate about conserving endangered native wildlife globally and protecting the world’s oceans from plastic pollution, overfishing, and climate change. Arnold enjoys 4x4 off-roading, camping and exploring global destinations off the beaten track.
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