Covax, which is working for global equitable access to Covid19 vaccines, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, and WHO with UNICEF as a key delivery partner and PAHO Revolving Fund in Americas is the recognized procurement agent. It believes Vaccine introduction can help save lives and prevent the loss of US$ 375 billion to the global economy every month.
The COVAX Facility is the global pooled procurement mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines through which COVAX will ensure fair and equitable access to vaccines for all 190 participating economies, using an allocation framework formulated by WHO.
Gavi and CEPI: How COVAX Came Into Existence
Gavi is a non profit organisation, established with the help of Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his then wife Melinda Gates in 2000s to felicitate vaccines to poorer countries at affordable prices by placing large orders with pharmaceutical companies with the money and other resources.
It has so far helped vaccinate 800 million children against pneumonia, meningitis and a range of other diseases, preventing about 14M deaths with routine immunizations according to a Bloomberg report.
On January 23, 2020, CEPI (Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) CEO Dr. Richard Hatchett met Dr. Seth Berkley who is an epidemiologist and CEO of Gavi the vaccine alliance, in Davos, Switzerland at World Economic Forum and they talked about Covid19 vaccines and how the crisis will unfold if the virus swept across globe. Dr. Hatchett had just handed out research grants to three vaccine candidates. Hatchett was concerned that the world could make the same mistake as it did in 2009 during H1N1 pandemic, when wealthy countries cornered the market for vaccines as per a Bloomberg Report.
In next few months Dr. Berkley, Dr. Hatchett backed by Bill Gates, the European Union and others, created the COVAX, a public-private partnership managed by Gavi with CEPI, and WHO.
What is CRD?
The Country Readiness and Delivery (CRD) workstream works under COVAX to ensure an accelerated work with its ACT arm (the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator) by creating a roadmap, various milestones, and by advising nations to prepare a National Deployment and Vaccination Plan. CRD has developed Guidance on developing a National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for vaccines and a template to help countries formulate an operational plan for COVID-19 vaccine introduction.
WHO, UNICEF, the GAVI Secretariat, and partners are working together at the global & regional levels to develop and disseminate adaptable global resources (e.g., guidance, tools & trainings, and advocacy materials) to support COVID-19 vaccines introduction for various partner countries.
COVAX has set the goal at 2 Billion doses to be delivered to 91 lower-income countries in 2021 itself.
On June 02, At Gavi’s AMC summit CEPI CEO, Dr. Hatchett said, “To end the acute phase of the pandemic as quickly as possible we must empower COVAX to deliver to its full potential. If we don’t, we will leave billions behind.”
COVAX: Hurdles It Faces
COVAX has now raised more than $9 Billion of money and aims to provide 2 Billion doses to poorer countries but there are several hurdles in reaching that goal-
- Vaccine producing countries making domestic vaccination a priority.
- Many countries are sitting at large and excess doses of vaccines and hoarding the raw materials.
- Many countries aren’t sharing the surplus doses rapidly.
- Wealthy countries have ordered many times the amount of doses they need.
What COVAX has done so far:
129 economies have received vaccines through COVAX.
In their First round of allocation on 2 March 2021, COVAX outlined delivery of doses of the AZ/Oxford vaccine – manufactured by AstraZeneca (AZ) and COVISHIELD, licensed to and manufactured by Serum Institute of India (SII/AZ) – to 142 Facility participants. Deliveries for this round of allocations has already begun, with India, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire receiving doses of the SII/AZ vaccine.
Also an exceptional distribution of 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, bound for delivery in Q1 2021, was announced in early February as per the data available on UNICEF website.
The COVAX Facility will deliver its 65 millionth vaccine dose this week. It should’ve been at least its 170 millionth. The time to donate excess doses is nowStatement by UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore, as G7 countries gear up for June summit on 17th May, 2021
PAHO (PAHO Revolving Fund is the recognized procurement agent for the COVAX facility. Thirty-six countries in the Americas are participating in COVAX.), the delivery partner in Americas, on a Washington, D.C., March 17, 2021 statement by its director Dr. Etienne read:
“For all these countries – even those which received small donations earlier this month – these COVAX deliveries will enable the start of steady vaccination efforts, We are happy that vaccines through COVAX are being delivered but we recognize that the need for more vaccines and sooner is great in the Americas.”
So far, 28 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to Latin American and Caribbean populations while nearly 138 million doses have been provided throughout the Americas.
Why USA didn’t join COVAX? Operation Warp Speed
The former USA President Donald J. Trump didn’t join COVAX, instead he launched his own Operation Warp Speed spending $12 Billions to finance a portfolio of vaccine candidates, which was an enormous success. This funding pushed scientists to deliver Vaccine shots more rapidly than imagined.
On June 03, 2021 Biden-Harris Administration Unveiled Strategy for Global Vaccine Sharing, Announcing Allocation Plan for the First 25 Million Doses to be Shared Globally. The Administration announced its framework for sharing these 80 million U.S. vaccine doses worldwide. Here’s what it read:
“The United States will share at least three-quarters of its donated doses through COVAX, supplying U.S. doses to countries in need. This will maximize the number of vaccines available equitably for the greatest number of countries and for those most at-risk within countries. For doses shared through COVAX, the United States will prioritize Latin America and the Caribbean, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa, in coordination with the African Union.
The United States has received requests for vaccines from countries all over the world. The U.S. will share up to one-quarter of its donated doses directly with countries in need, those experiencing surges, immediate neighbors, and other countries that have requested immediate U.S. assistance”
This gives a further boost to COVAX and also sets the stage for “increase global coverage”.
Serum Institutes of India and COVAX
In an recent interview with The Times Of India, Dr. Seth Berkley, said that Serum Institute of India constitutes the 1/3rd of their total vaccine target in 2020 but due to SII’s domestic commitments, they are “hundreds of millions of doses behind.”
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