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Global leaders rally to accelerate access to COVID-19 vaccines for lower-income countries

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  • The “One World Protected” Event, hosted today by the United States and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, launched a campaign to raise US$ 2 billion for the global fight against COVID-19.

  • The additional funding from donors and countries with MDB support will enable the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) to secure 1.8 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines for 92 lower-income countries by the end of the year.

  • At the event, governments and private sector partners made early pledges worth nearly US$ 400 million and committed to donate millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses to COVAX to benefit the most vulnerable in lower-income economies.

  • The new campaign will culminate in June 2021, at the Gavi COVAX AMC Summit, which will be hosted by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan.

Washington, D.C./Geneva, 15 April 2021 – World leaders joined forces today at the “One World Protected” event to take stock of progress in global efforts to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and seek ways to further accelerate vaccination. The event, hosted by US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, Acting Administrator of USAID Gloria Steele, and Chair of the Board of Gavi José Manuel Barroso, was joined by more than 200 participants, including leaders from government, business, civil society, and partner organizations across the globe.

In a vital step on the path to providing global protection against COVID-19, a new Investment Opportunity was unveiled, launching a campaign to raise an additional $US 2 billion from donors and the private sector for the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC). With this funding, the COVAX mechanism can lock in up to 1.8 billion vaccine doses for people at risk in 92 lower-income economies and accelerate coverage. The campaign will also aim to mobilize $US 1 billion in cost sharing from countries through domestic resource mobilization and the support of multilateral development banks (MDBs).

Secretary Blinken and Acting USAID Administrator Steele, hosts of today’s meeting, confirmed that the United States considers COVAX a critical instrument to ensure a coordinated global response. President Biden decided to join COVAX as one of the first acts of his new Administration, and the United States has become the single largest contributor to the Gavi COVAX AMC. The United States will continue to encourage world leaders to join in the effort.

“This isn’t just an opportunity – it’s an imperative,” said Secretary of State Blinken. “From day one, President Biden has made stopping COVID-19 the top priority of the Biden-Harris administration. And ensuring broad and equitable access to vaccines is an essential part of achieving that goal. To that end, the U.S. government contributed $2 billion to Gavi in support of COVAX in March – the largest donation COVAX has ever received. And we'll contribute an additional $2 billion to this effort through 2022, because people everywhere should have access to rigorously tested, safe, and effective COVID-19 vaccines. And because we recognize that as long as COVID is spreading and replicating anywhere, it poses a threat to people everywhere.”

Acting Administrator of USAID Gloria Steele noted, “The rapid spread of COVID-19 and its emerging variants demonstrates that no nation can act alone in a global pandemic. Vaccinating as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, is the only way to reduce the tragic loss of life, end the pandemic, and move us toward economic and social recovery."

The campaign will culminate in June 2021, where world leaders will meet again at the Gavi COVAX AMC Summit, hosted by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan Toshimitsu Motegi, taking note of the upcoming milestone, remarked, “Today, we are pleased to announce that Japan will co-host the "Gavi AMC Summit" with Gavi in June. The supply of vaccines and funding are still insufficient, and there is an urgent need to further strengthen the COVAX facility to ensure equitable access to safe, effective, and quality-assured vaccines to people in developing countries.”

NEW COMMITMENTS TO THE GAVI COVAX AMC At the event today, a number of donor governments announced significant new commitments worth a total of almost $400 million towards the 2021 goal. This includes:

  • SEK 2.25 billion (US$ 258.1 million) pledge from Sweden for the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm), Gavi’s innovative financing mechanism.
  • EUR 40 million (US$ 47.2 million) from the Netherlands for the Gavi COVAX AMC
  • DKK 50 million (US$ 8 million) from Denmark for the Gavi COVAX AMC
  • CHF 100,000 (US$ 106,000) from Liechtenstein for the Gavi COVAX AMC
  • EUR 678,125 (US$ 800,188) from Portugal for the Gavi COVAX AMC

In addition to these, private sector partners and foundations also mobilised significant new resources for the Gavi COVAX AMC:
- The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that US$ 30 million of its contribution to the Gavi Matching Fund would be made available to match private sector contributions to the COVAX AMC.
- Gates Philanthropy Partners have mobilized US$ 18 million.
- A Swiss foundation wishing to remain anonymous also offered CHF 15 million (US$ 15.9 million) to incentivize private sector giving.
- Google.org have committed US$ 2.5 million to the COVAX AMC and in parallel will launch a global campaign incentivising employees to contribute directly to Gavi. In addition, Google.org has donated US$ 15 million in Ad credits to Gavi. Longer term, Google.org engineers will also support Gavi’s broader innovation agenda.
- The Asia Philanthropic Circle joined as a new partner and pledged US$ 1.5 million.
- The Visa Foundation joined as a new partner and pledge US$1.5 million. Visa will also match employee donations to Gavi dollar for dollar through Visa’s employee donation matching program.
- A group of Portuguese philanthropists and partners (Fidelidade Group, Luz Saúde Hospitals and Multicare Insurance, Manuel António da Mota Foundation, the Ismaili Imamat and Caixa Geral de Depósitos) collectively committed EUR 1.5 million (US$ 1.8 million).
- Vaccine Forward (including AB SKF) have contributed SEK 2 million (US$ 230,000) to-date, with the aim to mobilise up to US$10 million.
- The cash contributions from Google, the Asia Philanthropic Circle and the Visa Foundation will be matched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Equitable distribution of vaccines offers the best prospect for ending the pandemic, kick-staring economic recovery and overcoming the vaccine divide between those with access to COVID-19 vaccines and those without,” said José Manuel Barroso, Chair of the Board of Gavi. “We are not there yet: while COVAX has begun delivering to AMC participating economies, we urgently need additional funding to protect those most at risk from the virus. I applaud leaders for stepping up and showing their support today as we embark on this vital fundraising effort.”

FIRST COMMITMENTS TO DOSE SHARING THROUGH COVAX

In addition to financial support, new pledges in support of dose sharing through COVAX were announced at the event. Under this scheme, countries will be able to donate millions of doses of their own COVID19 vaccines to COVAX in an act of global solidarity. As part of this effort, New Zealand committed today that it will donate more than 1.6 million doses of vaccines to COVAX, with a focus on the Pacific region. France welcomed the finalization of a new agreement between COVAX and Team Europe on the provision of doses which will ensure the first French and European donations via COVAX will materialize shortly.

The first international delivery of doses of COVID-19 vaccines supported by COVAX arrived in Ghana on February 24. As of today, more than 38 million doses have been shipped to 113 countries across six continents.

“The end of the pandemic is far from over as a vaccine global divide still looms large. Almost one in four people has received a COVID-19 vaccine in high-income countries while in low-income countries, only one in more than 500 people.” said Retno L. P. Marsudi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Indonesia and co-chair of the COVAX AMC Engagement Group. “The COVAX Facility needs support from all of us, and each country has the responsibility to secure equitable access to vaccine for all. It is not only our moral duty to see this through, but it is in our common interest to bolster efforts to keep everyone safe. Global solidarity must prevail.”

At the meeting, Heads of State and Ministers of Health of the countries that will see their vaccine coverage boosted by COVAX underlined the necessity to act quickly. The Chair of the African Union and President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, H.E. Felix Tshisekedi, noted the critical role that COVAX was playing to help put an end to the pandemic on the African Continent, and heralded the strong support of African nations for the mechanism. Pharmaceutical industry leaders reiterated their commitment to make doses available for COVAX to help stop the spread of the pandemic, and other partners reemphasized their commitments to the joint effort of ensuring global equitable access.

Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, who summarized the Investment Opportunity’s primary imperatives for the gathering, said: “We must all pull together – governments and the private sector from around the world – because we cannot afford to fail. Leaving any countries behind just gives the virus more of a chance to mutate and increase the threat. We are only safe if we are all safe. Let us respond to the challenge at hand and prepare for the next one.”

DONOR AND PARTNER QUOTES:
Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister, New Zealand said: “Dose sharing can help us make the best use of available vaccines, and the COVAX Facility provides an efficient and equitable way to share doses with others.”

Per Olsson Fridh, Minister for International Development Cooperation, Sweden said: "COVAX represents our best way of ending the pandemic by ensuring equitable global access to safe and effective vaccines. Already reaching over 100 countries, COVAX also shows what we can achieve by working together – from scientists and manufacturers to governments and multilateral organizations, to health workers around the globe. I am proud of Sweden’s contribution of US$ 280 million, making Sweden the largest contributor relative to our population. This is an investment not only in global solidarity, but also in our common objective of putting an end to the pandemic. Minimising the risk of dangerous virus variants, enabling a quicker economic recovery and minimising the already devastating impact of COVID-19 is in everyone’s best interest. I hope that many more will join us in contributing to the COVAX Investment Opportunity launched today, because the pandemic isn’t over anywhere until it is over everywhere.”

Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, The Netherlands said: “Vaccines are an essential investment to overcome the pandemic. We must upscale the availability of vaccines worldwide, ensure that they reach the most vulnerable and that health systems are strong enough. Therefore The Netherlands invests an extra 40 million EUR in COVAX AMC, as part of a broader package of 52 million EUR for vaccines and country readiness in support of the Access to COVID 19 Accelerator.”

Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, France said: “France welcomes the finalization of the agreement on dose donations between COVAX and Team Europe, which will ensure the first donations via COVAX. This expression of solidarity is essential to speed up the rollout of vaccines in the world. France invites all developed countries to get involved, because it is now that the needs are most urgent. That is the meaning of the call issued by President Macron at the G7 Summit in February: to share at least 13 million vaccines by June 2021. France will play its part.”

Dr Karen DeSalvo, Chief Health Officer, Google said: "COVID-19 has taken a devastating toll on communities around the world and overcoming the pandemic will require a coordinated effort on a global scale. Providing equitable access to vaccines is an essential step in our path towards recovery and Google is proud to stand alongside Gavi and their network of partners working towards that goal. No one is safe until we are all safe and we have a collective responsibility to ensure that everyone who wants to get vaccinated can do so, safely."

Al Kelly, Chairman and CEO, Visa said: “As the world begins to recover from the pandemic, we need to ensure COVID does not turbocharge global inequality through a lack of consistent vaccine access. Public-private partnerships are vital to stop the spread of COVID and rebuild our global economy, which is why I’m proud Visa Foundation will grant $1.5 million to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment to help make the COVID vaccine accessible to developing countries.”

Lawrence Lien, CEO of Asia Philanthropy Circle said: "Ubiquitous equitable access to vaccines is of the utmost importance to prevent the pandemic from further putting lives and economies at unbearable risks. The Asia Philanthropy Circle with their members are proud to support Gavi for vaccine distribution in Asia helping to resolve the greatest public health and economic challenge of our lifetime."

Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) said: “Last week St Lucia became the 100th country to receive doses from COVAX. We owe this achievement to the support and generosity of our partners and donors. Now, we must do more. The world has entered a new phase of the pandemic: more transmissible and lethal COVID-19 variants have caused resurgent disease outbreaks worldwide, and are driving overwhelming demand for vaccine. We fight an evolving virus, and fair access to vaccines is more important than ever to protect the most vulnerable, reduce the prevalence of the disease, and slow viral mutation. Equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines will benefit everyone on the planet, by ending the acute phase of the pandemic in the fastest and fairest way possible. With renewed financial support, commitment and collaboration from our partners, COVAX can make this a reality.”

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General said: “There remains a shocking and expanding disparity in the global distribution of vaccines. Some AMC countries haven’t received any vaccines, none have received enough and now some countries are not receiving their second-round allocations on time. We’ve shown that COVAX works. But to realize its full potential, we need all countries to step up with the political and financial commitments needed to fully fund COVAX and end the pandemic.”

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said: “Right now, there is far from enough supply to meet global demand – especially in the most vulnerable countries. Vaccines are concentrated in the hands of the few. Vaccine nationalism threatens us all. New variants are emerging. Health systems are strained. And health workers are exhausted – with many still waiting for their own vaccination,” said. “The COVAX AMC is a beacon of hope. It’s an effective, realistic way to ensure fair and affordable access to vaccines for all. But getting vaccines off the tarmac and delivered to difficult-to-reach populations requires concerted, coordinated effort and dedicated funding.”

Notes to editors

The 2021 Gavi COVAX AMC Investment Opportunity, further event information, and the full list of AMC donors is available here.

The latest table of pledges to the AMC is available here.

About Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance is a public-private partnership that helps vaccinate half the world’s children against some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Since its inception in 2000, Gavi has helped to immunise a whole generation – over 822 million children – and prevented more than 14 million deaths, helping to halve child mortality in 73 lower-income countries. Gavi also plays a key role in improving global health security by supporting health systems as well as funding global stockpiles for Ebola, cholera, meningitis and yellow fever vaccines. After two decades of progress, Gavi is now focused on protecting the next generation and reaching the unvaccinated children still being left behind, employing innovative finance and the latest technology – from drones to biometrics – to save millions more lives, prevent outbreaks before they can spread and help countries on the road to self-sufficiency. Learn more at www.gavi.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Vaccine Alliance brings together developing country and donor governments, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank, the vaccine industry, technical agencies, civil society, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other private sector partners. View the full list of donor governments and other leading organizations that fund Gavi’s work here.

Gavi’s role in COVAX

Gavi is leading on procurement and delivery 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.

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.

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 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.

MEDIA CONTACTS

Meg Sharafudeen, Gavi +41 79 711 5554 msharafudeen@gavi.org

Iryna Mazur +41 79 429 3671 imazur@gavi.org

Evan O’Connell +33 6 17 57 21 26 eoconnell@gavi.org

Laura Shevlin, Gavi + 41 79 529 92 87 lshevlin@gavi.org