Some 172 countries are engaging with the COVAX facility designed to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization said on Monday, but more funding is needed according to the organization, and countries need to make those binding commitments now.
Countries wishing to be part of the global COVAX plan have until Aug. 31 to submit expressions of interest, WHO officials said, with confirmation of intention to join due by Sept. 18, and initial payments due by Oct. 9.
WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the facility was critical to ending the COVID-19 pandemic, and would not only pool risk for countries developing and buying vaccines, but also ensure prices are kept “as low as possible.”
COVAX is co-led by the GAVI vaccines alliance, the WHO and the CEPI Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and is designed to guarantee equitable access globally to COVID-19 vaccines once they are developed and authorized for use.
It currently covers 9 candidate COVID-19 vaccines and its aim is to secure supplies of, and deliver 2 billion doses, across countries that sign up by the end of 2021.
WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan also responded to news that U.S. President Trump, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), announced an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma in helping treat patients with COVID-19. Trump also claimed the treatment could reduce the mortality by 35 per cent.
Swaminathan said findings on convalescent plasma have been “inconclusive” to this point.
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