The WHO has launched COVAX, a program that would ensure equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine once researchers develop it.
In their latest update, the organization DG, Dr Tedros, said that they had partnered with CEPI and GAVI to support low-income countries access the vaccine once it is available.
CEPI is the Centre for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and GAVI is the Vaccine Alliance.
What is COVAX?
According to their website, COVAX is COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility. The initiative aims to ensure that when available, the COVID-19 vaccine will be equitably accessible to all countries.
Countries that wish to participate in the initiative would benefit from reduced costs of producing, and then accessing the vaccine.
Through COVAX, CEPI will develop a vaccine at record speed, while GAVI would procure and finance the licenced vaccine and distribute it worldwide.
Program to protect the vulnerable
The partnership with WHO will then see low-income and middle-income governments get the vaccine on their government’s budget.
COVAX would also see that once in development, the most vulnerable will be first to get vaccinates.
According to CEPI’s website, health workers would be first to benefit, people over the age of 65, then others who are at risk due to underlying conditions.
Urgent call to governments
So far, the budget for the COVAX initiative is $18.1 billion for 2 billion doses of the vaccine by 2021.
CEPI has called for governments to join the initiative urgently to mitigate against further loss of lives and limit economic damage.
Urgent action would also accelerate the development of the vaccine at scale, thus greatly reducing infections and mortality from COVID-19. It would also be critical for low-income countries, ensuring that they guarantee protection to all populations globally.
So far, the virus has infected over 12.8 million people and killed over 570,000 people. And the WHO has warned that the worst has yet to come.