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Vaccine Equity At Heart Of New $50 Billion Plan To End Pandemic, Drive Recovery


Governments are being urged to finance a new $50
billion roadmap to end the COVID-19 pandemic and drive a
fast recovery, announced on Tuesday by the heads of the
world’s predominant global financing, health and trade
agencies.

The
plan
seeks to scale-up supplies of vaccines, tests and
treatments, thus reducing the “equity gap” in developing
countries, the leaders of the International Monetary Fund
(IMF), the
World Bank Group (WBG), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Trade
Organization (WTO) said in a joint statement.

Vaccine
access key

They warned that unless governments act
now, continued waves of infections and outbreaks, as well as
more transmissible and deadly virus variants, could threaten
recovery.

“By now it has become abundantly clear
there will be no broad-based recovery without an end to the
health crisis. Access to vaccination is key to both”, they
said, in a
call to action
published in newspapers across the
world.

The $50 billion investment is required for two
crucial reasons.

The funding will increase
manufacturing, supply, trade and delivery that would
accelerate equitable distribution of the tools to diagnose
and treat COVID-19, such as
vaccines, oxygen and medical supplies, while also promoting
economic growth around the world.

“This new roadmap
reflects the need to enhance countries’ readiness and
capacity systems to utilize these tools rapidly, safely and
effectively”, said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom
Ghebreyesus, speaking at media briefing later on
Tuesday.

Modest investment, big returns

The
funding commitment will bring the pandemic to an end faster
in developing countries, the partners said, reducing
infections and deaths, while also accelerating economic
recovery.

At the press briefing, Kristalina Georgieva,
IMF Managing Director, explained the link between
vaccination and the global economy.

“We are deeply
concerned because an increasingly two-track pandemic is
causing a two-track economic recovery with negative
consequences for all countries. And our data shows that in
the near term, vaccinating the world is the most effective
way to boost global output. In other words, vaccine policy
is economic policy,” she said.

The agency chiefs
estimated that the investment will generate some $9 trillion
in additional economic activity by 2025, in line with recent
analysis by the International Chamber of Commerce, the
world’s largest business organization, and Eurasia Group,
a political risk consultancy.

These entities have made
the case for a relatively modest investment by governments,
compared with the trillions spent on stimulus plans, and
also lost in foregone economic output.

Critically, the
funding will spur global vaccination and bridge “the
equity gap” in accessing doses. UN Secretary-General António
Guterres
has repeatedly stressed that vaccines must be
global public goods available to all people,
everywhere.

A shot in the arm

WHO and its
partners in the vaccine equity initiative, COVAX,
recently set the goal of inoculating 30 per cent of the
global population by the end this year. This could reach 40
per cent through other agreements and surge investment, and
at least 60 per cent by the first half of 2022, according to
the joint statement.

“To urgently get more shots in
arms, doses need to be donated immediately to developing
countries synchronized with national vaccine deployment
plans, including through COVAX”, it said.

WTO
Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala underlined the need for
cooperation on trade, as export restrictions continue and
countries wrangle over waiving an agreement on intellectual
property rights, known as TRIPS.

She told journalists
that trade policy can help scale-up vaccine production,
including by freeing up supply chains, and through working
with manufacturers to make the most of existing production
facilities and build new ones, particularly in regions where
they are lacking.

“We know that there is the TRIPS
waiver debate going on at the WTO”, she added. “While I
cannot take sides, we need to get to a conclusion on this
debate. We need to promote also the transfer of technology
and know-how to get lasting increases in production
capacity.”

Another vaccine validation

The
joint plan was announced as WHO approved another COVID-19
vaccine for rollout.

The Sinovac-CoronaVac vaccine,
made in China, has been validated for emergency use, meaning
it meets international standards for safety, efficacy and
manufacturing.

The Emergency Use Listing (EUL) process
is a prerequisite for inclusion in COVAX and international
procurement.

“The world desperately needs multiple
COVID-19 vaccines to address the huge access inequity across
the globe,” said Dr Mariângela Simão, WHO
Assistant-Director General for Access to Health
Products.

“We urge manufacturers to participate in
the COVAX
Facility
, share their knowhow and data and contribute to
bringing the pandemic under
control.

© Scoop Media

 



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