Australia to commit $80m to guarantee access to COVID vaccine for all
Melbourne, 26 August, 2020: The Australian Government has announced today that it will contribute $80m to a global initiative that will guarantee fair access to safe and effective COVID vaccines for developing countries to ensure that the world’s poorest don’t miss out.
Pacific Friends of Global Health welcomes the announcement that funding has been committed to the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment, a global vehicle designed to provide rapid, fair and equitable access to safe and effective vaccines worldwide, once they are approved and regulated for use.
COVAX is led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). Under the initiative, doses will be distributed equitably as they become available between the higher-income, self-financing countries that will pay for their doses, and developing countries that would otherwise be unable to afford to pay for the vaccine. So far, 172 countries have expressed their interest to take part in the initiative.
Effective COVID-19 vaccines are urgently needed to protect populations and restart economies. This commitment will ensure that cost is not a barrier to accessing COVID-19 vaccines for poorer countries, including for some of Australia’s regional neighbours. Without worldwide vaccine uptake, the pandemic and its impacts on health, the economy, security and the movement of people and goods will continue unabated.
Pacific Friends of Global Health Chair Professor Brendan Crabb AC said: “Vaccines are not magic force shields for individuals, none of us are safe until everyone’s safe. In that way, vaccinating all those in our region is essential, not just to protect those in need who deserve rich country support, but it is also in our own enlightened self-interest”.
Professor Crabb said, “It is important also to note that in low income settings, COVID-19 is likely to cause far more suffering from other diseases than from COVID-19 itself. Health systems just can’t cope. In that way, we desperately hope that new and additional funds will be committed to the aid budget to fund this and other COVID commitments for the region because we know that deaths from malaria, TB and HIV have already been increasing due to the diversion of testing and workforce attention to COVID in countries such as PNG.”
The aim of the COVAX Facility is to fairly distribute 2 billion doses of safe, effective vaccines to all participating countries by the end of 2021. Under the initiative, participating governments are guaranteed access to cover priority populations, such as health care workers and vulnerable groups. A portion of doses will also be reserved for emergency and humanitarian use.
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BACKGROUND NOTES FOR EDITORS
- Launched at the end of April 2020, the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator brings together governments, scientists, businesses, civil society, and philanthropists and global health organizations (the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, CEPI, FIND, Gavi, The Global Fund, Unitaid, Wellcome, WHO, the World Bank and Global Financing Facility) to accelerate the development, production and equitable access to new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines.
- Within the ACT-Accelerator, COVAX, the vaccines pillar, is driving the work on vaccine development, manufacturing, procurement and delivery at scale, as well as policy and allocation. It is convened by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). The COVAX Facility is coordinated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and forms a key part of COVAX.
- As well as reducing the tragic loss of life, introduction of a vaccine will prevent the loss $375bn to the global economy every month. https://www.gavi.org/sites/default/files/covid/COVAX-Pillar-background.pdf
ABOUT PACIFIC FRIENDS OF GLOBAL HEALTH
Pacific Friends of Global Health (“Pacific Friends”) serves three of the world’s most significant global health organisations; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (“the Global Fund”), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (“Gavi”) and UNITAID. We promote a greater understanding of the three organisations and aim to mobilise political and financial support in the Pacific region. Our mission is to increase the profile of the three organisations, increase understanding of their distinct and complementary roles in the global health response, showcase synergies between the organisations, raise awareness of the global health issues in the context of the Pacific region and engage with key leaders and decision makers in the government, the media, private sector, academia, civil society organisations, including communities and foundations, in Australia and in due course, in New Zealand.