Washington, Apr 15 (PTI) The US will contribute an additional USD 2 billion to the vaccines alliance Gavi through 2022 in support of the global COVAX initiative so that people everywhere can have access to safe and effective vaccines, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Thursday and called on partners to aid urgent vaccine manufacturing, supply and delivery needs.
“We applaud the other countries who have made and delivered pledges, which have put us on track to meet Gavi’s initial goal to deliver vaccines to at least 20 per cent of people in 92 low and middle-income countries by the end of the year,” Blinken said in his address to the launch of Gavi’s COVAX Commitment.
The US government has contributed USD 2 billion to Gavi in support of COVAX in March, the largest donation COVAX has ever received.
'It will contribute an additional USD 2 billion to this effort through 2022, because people everywhere should have access to rigorously tested, safe, and effective COVID- 19 vaccines,' he said.
COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, abbreviated as COVAX, is a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines led by UNICEF, Gavi, the World Health Organisation, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and others.
“But to beat this pandemic, we need to aim much higher. With USD 2 billion more to COVAX, we can reach approximately 30 per cent of people in target countries, rather than 20 per cent. Just think for a moment of all the people whose lives would be impacted by hitting that higher target,” Blinken said.
“That’s not all we must do. We need to produce more safe, effective vaccines, and we need to distribute them more rapidly,' he said.
The US calls on partners to work alongside Gavi to support urgent vaccine manufacturing, supply, and delivery needs, Blinken said.
'We also need to make sure people have access to reliable diagnostics, and safe and effective therapies, to further bend the curve,” Blinken said.
“And we have to mitigate the secondary impacts of COVID, like hunger. The faster we do all this, the more lives we save, the quicker we can safely reopen our schools and businesses, and the quicker our communities and economies can recover,” said the top American diplomat.
At the same time, the international community needs to help countries boost their pandemic preparedness, so that they can better detect, prevent, prepare for, and respond to future pandemics and other biological threats because they can’t afford to let history repeat itself.
The US Congress recently provided more than USD 11 billion for America’s global COVID response, he said.
The US intends to put those resources towards meeting these urgent goals. The Biden administration recently named a coordinator for global COVID response and health security, Gayle Smith, to lead America’s efforts on this front, he said. Gavi has so far delivered safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to 100 countries.
In a statement, Gavi said COVAX has now delivered more than 38 million doses across six continents, supplied by three manufacturers, AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Despite reduced supply and availability in March and April as the result of vaccine manufacturers scaling and optimising their production processes in the early phase of the rollout as well as increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India, COVAX expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year, a media release said.
According to its latest supply forecast, COVAX expects to deliver at least 2 billion doses of vaccines in 2021.
To reach this goal, the COVAX facility will continue to diversify its portfolio further and will announce new agreements with vaccine manufacturers in due course. PTI LKJ NSA AKJ PMS