End of COVID-19 pandemic in sight with arrival of these vaccines, says WHO
Global novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine alliance COVAX now has two billion doses with it to supply to 190 countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced December 18, 2020, in a virtual meeting.
Vaccination with these doses would begin in the first quarter of 2021, with health and social care workers being the topmost priority.
COVAX stands for the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility. COVAX is designed by WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and GAVI.
It aims to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for low income countries.
WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the end of the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to be in sight with the arrival of these vaccines.
New deals signed
The new deals signed by COVAX include the signing of an advance purchase agreement with AstraZeneca for 170 million doses and a Memorandum of Understanding with Johnson & Johnson for 500 million doses. These deals are in addition to existing agreements COVAX has with the Serum Institute of India for 200 million doses.
France and Canada to donate extra doses
Ministers of two countries — France and Canada — who were also present in the virtual meet said they would donate any extra doses secured through their bilateral deals to participants of COVAX on a need-based basis.
However, both the countries did not make any commitment as to when the donation would roll out. Canada has, so far, reserved doses much in excess to what its population would require through its deals beyond COVAX.
The COVAX facility currently has 190 countries on board. Other than 92 low- and middle- income countries (LMICs), the other ones are securing deals in the COVAX mechanism through self-financing. The LMICs are supported by advance market commitment and will be paid for by the Official Development Assistance (ODA).
‘COVAX lacks funds’
GAVI’s Seth Berkeley reacted to media reports of the COVAX facility failing owing to a lack of resources. He accepted that the initiative clearly lacked funds. To fulfil its mandate, it would require many more doses than what had been secured till now, he added.
Berkeley said there was no confirmation as to what the cost of the vaccine would be. Therefore, donors generously needed to donate for the initiative.
Till now, $2 billion dollars have been donated. Another $6.8 billion would be required in 2021.
Criteria for COVAX
What would be the basis for countries to be supplied vaccines under COVAX? WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said the factors would include a country’s preparedness for rollout, awareness in the community, cold chain infrastructure, proper regulatory approvals, legal frameworks and training and capacity.
Moderna gets emergency approval
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given emergency approval to Moderna Inc’s m-RNA vaccine. After a marathon meeting, a majority of the members of the FDA committee voted in its favour.
The US is the first country to approve this vaccine. Last week, the US gave approval to the Pfizer vaccine, which is already being administered.
The pharma major has claimed 95 per cent efficacy in its interim results.
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