Gavi Summit: $2 Billion Global Coronavirus Vaccine Fund Announced

A $2 billion procurement fund aimed at ensuring that poorer countries can access doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine has been announced at a virtual summit hosted by the UK.

The announcement was made at the third Gavi vaccine alliance replenishment summit, a virtual pledging event that separately raised $8.8bn, above the target of $7.4bn, for the private-public alliance’s general work on immunising millions of people worldwide from longstanding diseases such as measles.

The summit, the third replenishment summit since Gavi was formed 20 years ago, took on an extra significance as world leaders battle to set up a mechanism to ensure that any effective coronavirus vaccine is produced at a scale possible to ensure it is not just distributed to the countries that either can afford it or have invested in its research.

The worldwide scramble for masks and ventilators that erupted in the early stages of the pandemic, when countries including France requisitioned the nation’s entire supply of masks and the US apparently paid off the shippers of loads already on airplanes to obtain ventilators, does not bode well for global cooperation if and when a coronavirus vaccine becomes available.

“Rich countries will most likely try to push their way to the front of the queue, leaving poorer countries at the back, and that’s a problem,” said Jimmy Whitworth, a professor of international public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “I can’t imagine any country saying, ‘Africa’s need is greater than ours, so they can get the vaccine first and we’ll remain vulnerable.’”

The fund is modelled on previous work Gavi has done with pneumococcal and Ebola vaccines. It is aiming to raise $2bn in the first instance. Gavi said it had so far raised $567m of this target.

“By providing volume guarantees for specific candidates before they are licenced, as well as market-wide guarantees, the Gavi Covax AMC will encourage manufacturers to make investments in production capacity,” Gavi said. “This in turn increases supply availability and reduces the amount of time it takes for licenced vaccines to become available, particularly to the poorest countries around the world.”

AstraZeneca announced it was the first vaccine manufacturer to sign up to the Gavi Covax AMC. Under the terms of a $750 contract with Gavi, AstraZeneca will guarantee 300 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine that it is developing in collaboration with the University of Oxford. These doses will be supplied on receiving a licence or prequalification by the World Health Organisation, and are targeted for the end of the year.

AstraZeneca and Oxford said they had “committed to operating on a not-for-profit basis for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic period to enable broad and equitable access, including for low and lower-middle income countries”.

In addition, AstraZeneca reached a licensing agreement with the Serum Institute of India to supply one billion doses for low- and middle-income countries.

Bill Gates, speaking at the virtual summit, said he was impressed by the way in which the big pharmaceutical companies are cooperating to ensure that a vaccine will be ready quickly. He told reporters the companies have offered to make their manufacturing plants available to produce a vaccine even if the vaccine selected for distribution by the WHO is not their own.

His foundation announced it was putting up $1.6bn over the next five years for Gavi’s continued core vaccine work, rivalling the other lead nation state donors, the US, the UK and Norway.

Gates stressed Gavi cannot abandon its core vaccine work in pursuit of a coronavirus vaccine. He said: “It is a unique time in history. Never have so many people been aware of the importance of vaccines. As we race to develop the coronavirus vaccine, we must renew our commitment to delivering every life-saving vaccine there is to every child on earth”.

The UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, said: “The world was coming together in the greatest shared endeavour of our lifetimes – the triumph of humanity over disease.”

Gayle Smith, president of the ONE campaign that aims to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, said: “Real credit goes to all those who saw the bigger picture today, especially the UK for hosting this event and to all those donors who stepped up and made sure Gavi is fully funded. This is great leadership which will not only save millions of children’s lives but increases our ability to prevent future pandemics – protecting everyone.”



The Guardian





Boris JohnsoncoronavirusVaccine

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