THE World Health Organisation (WHO) Director General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus says at least nine vaccines are part of a dynamic portfolio; which is constantly being reviewed and optimised to ensure access to the best possible range of products.
By Michael Gwarisa
In a Press Statement, Dr Tedros said 172 countries were now engaging with the COVAX Global Vaccines Facility, which has both the largest and most diverse COVID-19 vaccine portfolio in the world.
At present there are nine vaccines that are part of this dynamic portfolio; which is constantly being reviewed and optimised to ensure access to the best possible range of products. Even now, discussions are ongoing with four more producers.
“And a further nine vaccines are currently under evaluation for the longer term. The Facility is the critical mechanism for joint procurement and pooling risk across multiple vaccines so that whatever vaccine is proven to be safe and effective – all countries within the Facility will be able to access them,” said Dr Tedros.
He added that there is need for a mechanism to enable a globally coordinated rollout which will enable all countries, even those that have invested with individual manufacturers independently.
“We’re working with vaccine manufacturers to provide all countries that join the effort timely and equitable access to all vaccines, licensed and approved. This doesn’t just pool risk, it also means that prices will be kept as low as possible.
“New research outlines that global competition for vaccine doses could lead to prices spiking exponentially in comparison to a collaborative effort such as the COVAX Facility. It would also lead to a prolonged pandemic as only a small number of countries would get most of the supply. Vaccine nationalism only helps the virus.”
Dr Tedros also said the world has so far invested 12 trillion dollars in keeping economies moving and investing in the COVAX Facility is the fastest way to end this pandemic and ensure a sustainable economic recovery.
“Through the allocation framework, COVAX will ensure that low-, middle- and high-income countries all receive the vaccine in a timely way as soon as there is supply of a safe and effective vaccine. The success of the COVAX Facility hinges not only on countries signing up to it, but also filling key funding gaps for both the research and development work and to support lower-income economies within the facility.
“Our only way out of this pandemic is together. Initially, when there will be limited supply, it’s important to provide the vaccine to those at highest risk around the world. This includes health workers, as they are on the frontlines in this pandemic and critical to saving lives and stabilising the overall health system. It also includes people over 65 years old and those with certain diseases that put them at higher risk of dying from COVID-19. As supply increases, the next stage of the vaccine rollout would be expanded based on an assessment of each country’s vulnerability to the virus.”
Meanwhile, a number of vaccines are now in the final stage of clinical trials.
“In order to be able to secure enough doses to rollout the vaccines, the next step for the partnership is for countries to make binding commitments in support of the COVAX Facility. While we’re grateful for the funds already committed towards the COVAX Facility, more is urgently needed to continue to move the portfolio forward. The goal of the mechanism is to deliver at least two billion doses of safe, effective vaccines by the end of 2021.