A peek into COVAX machine


A closer look at the model contracts issued by the COVAX Facility and how it will be governed

Gavi’s COVAX Facility is gearing into operations mode, from acquiring an approved legal status, to building its governance structure; issuing contracts to participating countries to negotiating deals with vaccine manufacturers; the COVID-19 vaccine machine is here. Contentious issues including liability provisions for participating countries and cost-sharing for vaccines doses for low and middle-income countries continue to hashed out behind the scenes. More than 180 countries are set to have joined the Facility.

This story is based on a review of recent decisions by the Gavi board and the resultant questions on governance. You can read in two parts, the state of play on the contracts negotiated by the COVAX Facility; and the proposed governance structures.

Given the pace at which global health governance is being remade as we speak, one may have overlooked a key detail in these past weeks. Gavi is the legal entity to administer the COVAX Facility as approved by its board in July 2020. Readers know that Gavi is a Swiss-based non-profit foundation, “granted privileges and immunities by the Swiss authorities”. Gavi makes it explicit that while it is the legal entity administering the Facility, participating countries “will take title to the vaccines and any associated risks.”

The Facility itself is being described as a passthrough mechanism “matching limited supply in 2021 with expressed demand”, as cited in a report to its Board at the end of September 2020. This report – COVAX Facility Operationalisation and Vaccine Programme – discussed in detail, all aspects of the Facility. This has been seen by Geneva Health Files.

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