WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday (March 5) said that more than 20 million doses of vaccines have been delivered to 20 countries under the COVAX agreement. Tedros also added that in the next week a further 31 countries will be delivered 14.4 million doses
He said “As you know, this was a landmark week for COVAX, with the first vaccinations starting in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire. In addition to those two countries, COVAX has now delivered vaccines to Angola, Cambodia, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Gambia, India, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Moldova, Nigeria, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan, and Uganda.”
“This is encouraging progress, but the volume of doses being distributed through COVAX is still relatively small. The first round of allocations covers between 2 and 3 percent of the population of countries receiving vaccines through COVAX, even as other countries make rapid progress towards vaccinating their entire population within the next few months,” added Tedros
COVAX is an agreement that was conceptualised in April 2020 by the WHO, the European Commission, and France. The idea was to bring ‘ together governments, global health organisations, manufacturers, scientists, private sector, civil society, and philanthropy, with the aim of providing innovative and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines.’
The need for the COVAX agreement was highlighted further when it was noticed that developed economies had stocked advance order of COVID vaccine well beyond their requirements. UN chief Antonio Guterres had said in February that a total of 130 countries were yet to receive a single dose of COVD vaccine
COVAX is based on four approaches which are:
- Connecting companies who are producing vaccines with other companies who have excess capacity to fill and finish.
- Bilateral technology transfer through which the company can transfer its patent to another company to produce vaccines.
- Coordinated technology transfer under which universities and manufacturers will license their vaccines to other companies through a global mechanism coordinated by WHO, which will also involve training of staff at the recipient companies and coordinate investments in infrastructure.
- Giving countries across the world the right to manufacture vaccines by waiving of intellectual property rights as provided by the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement.