COVAX IN 2021: WILL THE PIECES COME TOGETHER?
What Gavi’s Board documents say.
There is tremendous pressure on Gavi – The Vaccine Alliance and its partners including WHO to deliver vaccines for the pandemic even as the increasing complexity of COVID-19 challenges scientists and policy-makers.
The risks facing Gavi and the constraints it faces as the responsible global health agency in making COVID-19 vaccines available to the world, is significant. This is not only about Gavi. At stake are some of the poorest countries in the world for whom the COVAX Facility is the only ticket out of the pandemic. The COVAX Facility had been set up as a global mechanism to pool resources and demand for COVID-19 vaccines, to accelerate the availability of and equitable access to safe and efficacious vaccine.
In his report to the Board that met last week, CEO Seth Berkley cited modeling by Northeastern University to determine “how many lives equitable (COVID-19) vaccination could save”. The modelling showed if high-income countries buy up the first 2 billion doses of vaccine, instead of making sure they are distributed in proportion to the global population, then almost twice as many people could die from COVID-19.
Our story this week looks comprehensively at the many dimensions of this operation including on issues of governance, financing, liabilities; and what all these could mean for many countries that have signed up to the Facility. This is based on numerous documents which contain highly specific and granular information on how the Facility will work. These were discussed at Gavi’s Board meeting last week. Geneva Health Files also spoke to several sources associated with discussions at Gavi on COVID-19 vaccines.
The Board documents give a glimpse of Gavi’s response to the pandemic which suggest that it is planning for administering vaccines for COVID-19 for several years.
Failure to deliver on COVAX could translate into risks which could threaten Gavi’s overall core immunization programmes, in addition to increasing reputational risks for Gavi that could have implications among its donors, documents say.
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