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WHO says 172 countries are poised to participate in COVID-19 vaccine initiative

Countries have until 31 August to submit an expression of interest in joining the initiative

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that 172 countries are engaged in discussions to potentially participate in the COVAX initiative to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

COVAX is a global initiative aiming to provide equitable access globally to safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19, by working with vaccine manufacturers to bolster its portfolio of potential shots.

According to WHO, COVAX currently has the world’s largest and most diverse COVID-19 vaccine portfolio, with a total of nine candidates under evaluation and further discussions ongoing with other major producers.

The COVAX initiative is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the WHO. It is the only global initiative working with governments and manufacturers to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Countries intending to be part of the initiative will have until 31 August to submit an expression of interest to join the COVAX facility initiative, with initial payments due by 9 October.

“COVID-19 is an unprecedented global health challenge that can only be met with unprecedented cooperation between governments, researchers, manufacturers and multilateral partners,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO.

“By pooling resources and acting in solidarity through the ACT Accelerator and the COVAX Facility, we can ensure that once a vaccine is available for COVID-19, it’s available equitably to all countries,” he added.

Last week, Ghebreyesus issued a warning against vaccine nationalism as countries across the world secure early access to promising COVID-19 vaccine for their respective populations.

He encouraged high-income countries to take part in the COVAX facility initiative, and also asked world leaders to consider supporting access to potential vaccines on the basis of threat and vulnerability, with front-line health and social care workers to be given priority.

“No one country has access to research and development, manufacturing and all the supply chains for all essential medicines and materials,” said Ghebreyesus.

“And if we can work together, we can ensure that all essential workers are protected and proven treatments like dexamethasone are available to those who need them,” he added.

25th August 2020

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