Boston, Massachusetts 2021-02-22 16:46:47 –
AAfter months of uncertainty and frustration, the World Health Organization program designed to ensure access to the Covid-19 vaccine in dozens of low-income countries late last week received a lot of good news. I did.
First, a vaccine maker, Novavax (NVAX), has promised 1.1 billion doses to the WHO initiative known as COVAX. Meanwhile, the United States has agreed to provide $ 4 billion in aid over the next two years, Germany has added $ 1.2 billion, and the European Commission has provided $ 600 million. And the UK has promised to provide surplus vaccines to low-income countries.
The sudden surge in announcements was in stark contrast to growing concern that COVAX was declining. For most of the past year, wealthy countries and pharmaceutical companies have reached deals that critics claim to leave low-income countries with little access to vaccines. As a result, so far, the majority of vaccinations have been given in high-income countries.
But now, WHO officials are more optimistic about having at least 20% of the population of 92 low-income countries successfully vaccinated about 2 billion times by the end of this year.
“There is a growing movement behind vaccine fairness,” WHO Executive Director Tedros Adhanom Gebreez said in a statement. “This cannot be a business as usual. There is an urgent need for countries to share doses and technologies, expand production and ensure a sustainable supply of vaccines so that anyone can be vaccinated anywhere. . “
However, despite the obvious signs of progress, the question remains as to how successful the effort known as COVAX can be. For now, supply is limited. COVAX is expected to receive 336 million doses from AstraZeneca and 1.2 million doses from Pfizer to cover only 3.3% of the population of the 145 countries participating in the program.
“It depends on what you consider to be your goal,” said Kenneth Shadowren, a professor of international development at the London School of Economics, who studies drug pricing and access issues. “Are we trying to avoid situations where poor countries do not have access to vaccines? Or achieve something close to fair distribution of vaccines in terms of what percentage of the population is vaccinated and what percentage. Are you trying? Obviously, they are extreme, but it’s useful to think that way. “
In his view, the latest announcement suggests that COVAX can actually help low-income countries access the vaccine. But Shadowren is not confident that the poor economy will get a proportional share similar to the kind of distribution that is happening in wealthier countries.
“I hope COVAX will help avoid the worst-case scenarios in poor countries that have not been vaccinated until 2022 or later,” he continued. “It’s an outcome we can celebrate, but we also need to avoid the worst scenarios and be aware of the outcome of what it is.”
COVAX was founded last year with the support of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. And like a wealthier country, COVAX has signed a contract with a vaccine maker to buy large doses. In fact, according to the Duke Global Health Innovation Center, COVAX has agreed to purchase the largest doses, following the United States and the European Union.
But until last week, it was unclear whether COVAX had the funds to carry out that commitment. The program is funded primarily by wealthy countries and various organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. High-income and middle-income countries can also participate in COVAX, but you will have to pay for the vaccine yourself.
At the same time, several companies are doing business with COVAX, but there was also discussion about the efforts of the pharmaceutical industry.
In the long run, Pfizer (PFE) and its partner BioNTech (BNTX) have agreed to supply up to 40 million doses of vaccine. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) will provide 100 million doses this year and up to 500 million doses by 2022. AstraZeneca (AZN), the developer of the Covid-19 vaccine with the University of Oxford, is India to accelerate the distribution of its technology to the Serum Institute of low-income countries. In addition, Moderna (MRNA) does not exercise patent rights for the vaccine.
In a statement, the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Associations claimed to share the goal of providing equitable access to vaccines for healthcare professionals. “Since the beginning of this pandemic, the industry has spared no effort in developing, registering and distributing effective, high-quality vaccines,” said the trade group.
Nevertheless, the advocacy group is not yet convinced.The group said some vaccines, such as Novavax Shot, have not yet been approved or are being tested in clinical trials, but J & J is currently Asked for WHO approval For emergency use. Meanwhile, Oxfam said wealthy countries have enough vaccines for each and every citizen to vaccinate more than three times, but many low-income countries have not yet received a single dose. ..
“When it comes to financing, the gap is starting to close, but the key issue is transparency,” said Manuel Martin, Health Innovation and Policy Advisor for Doctors Without Borders Access Campaign. “The manufacturer offers doses, but under what conditions we don’t know, yet the agreement is moving forward and there is not enough information to put pressure on it.”
A key issue, he continued, was the need to support technology transfer, which refers to providing knowledge to other companies to accelerate vaccine production. This debate is closely linked to calls for a temporary waiver of the terms of the World Trade Organization Agreement, especially in the hope that low-income countries will have easy access to Covid-19 medical products. ..
“The key barrier here is know-how, and companies need to relocate it to expand production capacity in the short term,” Martin said.
New pledges boost a global vaccine access, but critics say more is needed Source link New pledges boost a global vaccine access, but critics say more is needed