COVAX reaches over 100 economies, 42 days after the first international delivery

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World Health Organization
World Health Organization
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COVAX reaches over 100 economies, 42 days after first international delivery

  • The COVAX Facility has now delivered life-saving vaccines to over 100 economies since making its first international delivery to Ghana on February 24th 
  • So far, more than 38 million doses of vaccines from manufacturers AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and Serum Institute of India (SII) have now been delivered, including 61 economies eligible for vaccines through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment
  • COVAX aims to supply vaccines to all participating economies that have requested vaccines, in the first half of 2021, despite some delays in planned deliveries for March and April. 

Geneva/New York/Oslo, 8 April 2021 – More than one hundred economies have received life-saving COVID-19 vaccines from COVAX, the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. The milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.  

COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers, AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII). Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).

Despite reduced supply availability in March and April – the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout, as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India – COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.

“In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of COVAX doses has already reached one hundred countries,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “COVAX may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency.” 

“COVAX has given the world the best way to ensure the fastest, most equitable rollout of safe and effective vaccines to all at-risk people in every country on the planet,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “If we are going to realize this great opportunity, countries, producers and the international system must come together to prioritize vaccine supply through COVAX. Our collective future, literally, depends on it.”

“This is a significant milestone in the fight against COVID-19. Faced with the rapid spread of COVID-19 variants, global access to vaccines is fundamentally important to reduce the prevalence of the disease, slow down viral mutation, and hasten the end of the pandemic,” said Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). “The extraordinary scientific achievements of the last year must now be matched by an unprecedented effort to protect the most vulnerable, so the global community must remain firmly focused on reducing the equity gap in COVID-19 vaccine distribution.”

“In just a month and a half, the ambition of granting countries access to COVID vaccines is becoming a reality, thanks to the outstanding work of our partners in the COVAX Facility,” said Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director. “However, this is no time to celebrate; it is time to accelerate. With variants emerging all over the world, we need to speed up global rollout. To do this, we need governments, along with other partners, to take necessary steps to increase supply, including by simplifying barriers to intellectual property rights, eliminating direct and indirect measures that restrict exports of COVID-19 vaccines, and donating excess vaccine doses as quickly as possible.”

According to its latest supply forecast, COVAX expects to deliver at least 2 billion doses of vaccines in 2021. In order to reach this goal, the COVAX Facility will continue to diversify its portfolio further, and will announce new agreements with vaccine manufacturers in due course. 

Furthermore, in March it was announced that the United States government will host the launch event for the 2021 Gavi COVAX AMC Invest Opportunity to catalyse further commitment and support for accelerated access to vaccines for AMC-supported economies. An additional US$2 billion is required in 2021 to finance and secure up to a total of 1.8 billion donor-funded doses of vaccines. COVAX is also working to secure additional sourcing of vaccines in the form of dose-sharing from higher income countries.

Quotes from donors and partners

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said: “As we continue our common race to speed up safe and effective vaccination everywhere, I want to commend COVAX for having delivered first vaccines to 100 countries in every corner of the world, including some of the most vulnerable warn torn countries like Afghanistan and Yemen. This is a real milestone. Team Europe has strongly invested in COVAX and I urge all partners to support COVAX to make sure no one is left behind”. 

Senator the Hon Marise Payne, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Australia said: “Australia welcomes the progress made by COVAX in COVID-19 vaccine distribution across the world. One hundred countries now have access to life-saving COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX. We are proud to work with global partners to achieve equitable global access to safe and effective vaccines.”

Karina Gould, Minister of International Development, Canada and co-chair, COVAX AMC Engagement Group said: “Despite the many challenges it faced, the COVAX Facility has continued to deliver. In just a matter of weeks, it’s been supplying vaccines to 100 countries. This is a milestone we can all be proud of. Now, more than ever, we must continue to work together and support multilateral mechanisms like the COVAX Facility and the ACT-Accelerator.” 

Jean-Yves le Drian, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, France said: “One hundred countries have now received safe, WHO-approved vaccines against COVID-19 through the COVAX Facility. France welcomes this crucial step forward, which demonstrates that multilateralism in global health, as well as the spirit of solidarity and responsibility on which it is based, constitutes the most effective response to this pandemic. But the fight against the virus is far from over: we must continue to support COVAX and accelerate equitable access to vaccines in fragile countries, in particular through sharing of vaccine doses. This is what France wants to do, together with its EU and G7 partners.”

Dr Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany said: “We either beat the pandemic worldwide or we will not beat it at all. The only way out of the crisis is a global immunisation campaign. In order to now be able to vaccinate people quickly, we are using the tried and tested structures of the global vaccine alliance Gavi. Thanks to the vaccination platform Covax, the structures are in place to provide vaccines for at least 20 per cent of people in developing countries and emerging economies over the course of this year.”

Heiko Maas, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Germany said: “The fact that St.Lucia yesterday became the 100th country to be supplied with vaccines via the COVAX platform supported by Germany and the EU, is a milestone on the way out of the pandemic. This progress gives us hope, for we too will only be safe when everyone around the world is safe. Access to vaccines, medicines and tests must not become a geopolitical pawn. Rather, they must be available to all countries in a fair and transparent manner. That’s why we’re committed to COVAX, to a multilateral approach.”

Colm Brophy TD, Minister of State for Overseas Development and the Diaspora, Ireland said: “Through our funding to COVAX, Ireland is supporting developing countries, who most need vaccines and can least afford them, secure their share of global supply.” 

Dag-Inge UlsteinMinister of International Development, Norway, and Co-chair of the ACT-Accelerator Facilitation Council said: “In less than a year, the world has come together to develop and secure equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines. That is a huge victory. But the risk of vaccine nationalism is still looming large. Countries and manufactures must prioritise global solutions. It is also crucial that all manufacturers continue to make their vaccines available and affordable to COVAX, so that the global rollout can continue. Countries that have more vaccines than they need should share vaccines through COVAX. I also expect all relevant stakeholders to take action to ensure that the world can produce enough vaccines, at a price that even the poorest countries can afford.”

H.E. Dr Tawfig AlRabiah, Minister of Health in Saudi Arabia said: “‘People’s health first’ has been the guiding principle, driving all efforts in the fight against the pandemic – both nationally and globally – to ensure that “No one is left behind”. We in the kingdom are proud contributors to GAVI and the COVAX facility, which has now shipped over 37 million vaccines. This show of solidarity is the cure to fighting COVID-19, and our collective resilience will enable us to overcome any future pandemic we may face.” 

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Minister Wendy Morton, United Kingdom said: “From Nigeria to Nepal, COVAX has now delivered life-saving vaccine doses to 100 countries and territories which is a huge achievement and another step towards making us all safe. The UK has played a leading role in achieving equitable access to vaccines by providing £548 million for COVAX early on, which will help to deliver more than one billion doses around the world, as well as lobbying international partners to increase their funding.”

United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said: “The United States welcomes the news that COVAX has delivered safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to 100 countries.  The United States signaled our strong support for COVAX through an initial $2 billion contribution to Gavi.  Through unprecedented partnerships among donors, manufacturers, and participating countries, COVAX has achieved extraordinary milestones in equitably distributing doses to the global community in record time.”

Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank said: “As part of Team Europe the European Investment Bank is pleased to provide EUR 400 million for COVAX, representing the EIB’s largest ever support for global public health. COVAX has already provided vaccines to vulnerable groups and front line workers and brought hope to millions more. COVAX demonstrates the benefit of global cooperation to tackle the shared challenge of COVID. Congratulations to the COVAX team and global partners in 100 countries around the world. Together we are ensuring equitable access to vaccines and together we are directing our efforts towards a global recovery.” 

Pascal Soriot, AstraZeneca CEO, said: “Today marks a significant milestone in the global fight against the pandemic as 100 countries have received vaccine through COVAX. I am proud that the supply of our vaccine accounts for the vast majority of doses being delivered through COVAX in the first half of this year. Over 37 million doses of our vaccine have been delivered to date which are protecting the most vulnerable populations around the world.  Together with our COVAX partners, we continue to work 24/7 to deliver on our unwavering commitment to broad, equitable and affordable access.”

Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla said: “Congratulations to everyone who has worked tirelessly to reach this impressive milestone. At Pfizer we are driven every day by the belief that science will win. Through collaboration and commitment, COVAX has brought forth a global solution that helps to bring breakthrough science to everyone, everywhere. We are proud to work together with the facility and all of its partners and remain firmly committed to working toward the shared vision of equitable access for all to end this pandemic.” 

Sai D. Prasad, President, Developing Countries Vaccines Manufacturing Network (DCVMN) said: “COVAX has made history by ensuring equitable access for COVID-19 vaccines to all countries irrespective of their economic status. The 100th delivery marks a great milestone for COVAX, leading to enhanced deliveries during 2021. We commend the efforts by all partners in COVAX for this achievement. Developed and developing country manufacturers have played a crucial role in product development and large scale manufacturing. In order to meet the requirements of all countries, more partnerships between innovators and manufacturers are required. COVAX’s leadership in COVID-19 vaccines will ensure that we leave no one behind.”

Thomas Cueni, Director General, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) & founding partner of ACT-A said: “The timeline is truly impressive; one that is difficult to square with warnings of “catastrophic moral failure”. It’s an innovation success story with the first WHO vaccine approval on 31 December 2021, less than a year after the virus was first shared. It’s a manufacturing success story with the scaling up from zero to one billion doses being produced by April 2021. It is a logistics and country preparedness success story, with 100 countries receiving the vaccines. And last but by no means least, it’s a collaboration and solidarity success story thanks to the commitment from donors and the tireless efforts of the partners of COVAX including the developing and the developed world manufacturers. The COVAX public private partnership and political leadership to equitably share surplus vaccines are the best guarantees we have that people who need the vaccine will get it whenever they live, fast enough to outpace the virus’ mutations.” 

Notes to editors

The list of 102 Facility participants (as of 14h CET, 8 April) that have received a combined total of 38,392,540 doses of COVAX-delivered vaccines so far is as follows (in alphabetical order):

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belize, Benin, Bermuda, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Cabo Verde, Cambodia, Canada, Colombia, Congo (DRC), Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Fiji, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritius, Mongolia, Montenegro, Morocco, Mozambique, Nauru, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Oman, Palestine, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, St. Lucia*, Sudan, Suriname, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen.

*100th Facility participant to receive a COVAX delivery

About COVAX

COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, is co-convened by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance Gavi) and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with UNICEF as key implementing partner, developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others. It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.

CEPI’s role in COVAX

CEPI is leading on the COVAX vaccine research and development portfolio, investing in R&D across a variety of promising candidates, with the goal to support development of three safe and effective vaccines which can be made available to countries participating in the COVAX Facility. As part of this work, CEPI has secured first right of refusal to potentially over one billion doses for the COVAX Facility to a number of candidates, and made strategic investments in vaccine manufacturing, which includes reserving capacity to manufacture doses of COVAX vaccines at a network of facilities, and securing glass vials to hold 2 billion doses of vaccine. CEPI is also investing in the ‘next generation’ of vaccine candidates, which will give the world additional options to control COVID-19 in the future.  

Gavi’s role in COVAX

Gavi is leading on procurement and delivery at scale for COVAX: coordinating the design, implementation and administration of the COVAX Facility and the COVAX AMC and working with its Alliance partners UNICEF and WHO, along with governments, on country readiness and delivery. As part of this role, Gavi hosts the Office of the COVAX Facility to coordinate the operation and governance of the mechanism as a whole, manages relationships with Facility participants, and negotiates advance purchase agreements with manufacturers of promising vaccine candidates on behalf of the 190 economies participating in the COVAX Facility. It also coordinates design, operation and fundraising for the COVAX AMC that supports 92 lower-income economies, including a no-fault compensation mechanism that will be administered by WHO. As part of this work, Gavi supports governments and partners on ensuring country readiness, providing funding and oversight of UNICEF procurement of vaccines as well as partners’ and governments work on readiness and delivery. This includes support for cold chain equipment, technical assistance, syringes, vehicles, and other aspects of the vastly complex logistical operation for delivery. 

WHO’s role in COVAX

WHO has multiple roles within COVAX: It provides normative guidance on vaccine policy, regulation, safety, R&D, allocation, and country readiness and delivery. Its Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) on Immunization develops evidence-based immunization policy recommendations. Its Emergency Use Listing (EUL) / prequalification programmes ensure harmonized review and authorization across member states. It provides global coordination and member state support on vaccine safety monitoring. It developed the target product profiles for COVID-19 vaccines and provides R&D technical coordination. WHO leads, together with UNICEF, the Country Readiness and Delivery workstream, which provides support to countries as they prepare to receive and administer vaccines. Along with Gavi and numerous other partners working at the global, regional, and country-level, the CRD workstream provides tools, guidance, monitoring, and on the ground technical assistance for the planning and roll-out of the vaccines. Along with COVAX partners, WHO has developed a no-fault compensation scheme as part of the time-limited indemnification and liability commitments.

UNICEF’s role in COVAX

UNICEF is leveraging its experience as the largest single vaccine buyer in the world and working with manufacturers and partners on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine doses, as well as freight, logistics and storage. UNICEF already procures more than 2 billion doses of vaccines annually for routine immunisation and outbreak response on behalf of nearly 100 countries. In collaboration with the PAHO Revolving Fund, UNICEF is leading efforts to procure and supply doses of COVID-19 vaccines for COVAX. In addition, UNICEF, Gavi and WHO are working with governments around the clock to ensure that countries are ready to receive the vaccines, with appropriate cold chain equipment in place and health workers trained to dispense them. UNICEF is also playing a lead role in efforts to foster trust in vaccines, delivering vaccine confidence communications and tracking and addressing misinformation around the world.

About ACT-Accelerator

The Access to COVID-19 Tools ACT-Accelerator, is a new, ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. It was set up in response to a call from G20 leaders in March 2020 and launched by the WHO, European Commission, France and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020.

The ACT-Accelerator is not a decision-making body or a new organisation, but works to speed up collaborative efforts among existing organisations to end the pandemic. It is a framework for collaboration that has been designed to bring key players around the table with the goal of ending the pandemic as quickly as possible through the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of tests, treatments and vaccines, thereby protecting health systems and restoring societies and economies in the near term. It draws on the experience of leading global health organisations which are tackling the world’s toughest health challenges, and who, by working together, are able to unlock new and more ambitious results against COVID-19. Its members share a commitment to ensure all people have access to all the tools needed to defeat COVID-19 and to work with unprecedented levels of partnership to achieve it.

The ACT-Accelerator has four areas of work: diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and the health system connector. Cross-cutting all of these is the workstream on Access & Allocation.

Source: WHO Media. IBG NEWS is enlisted with WHO as news media.

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