G7 hailed for plan to share 870m doses of COVID-19 vaccine

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Agency Reports

World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and COVAX partners have applauded G7 nations’ commitment to sharing 870 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

WHO, in a statement, commended G7 countries for the commitment to delivering half of the 870 million doses by end of 2021.

G7 countries are a group of the world’s seven largest advanced economies namely: United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Canada, France, Japan and United States

“G7 reaffirmed their support for COVAX as the primary route for providing vaccines to the poorest countries,’’ it stated.

In a landmark agreement at the just concluded G7 summit at Cornwall, UK, the leaders pledged to share COVID-19 vaccine doses internationally, in support of global equitable access and to help end the acute phase of the pandemic.

The G7 has committed one billion doses since February virtual G7 Early Leaders’ Summit, including pledges made at the G20 Global Health Summit.

According to the statement, COVAX partners welcome this commitment, along with continued support for exporting in significant proportions, promotion of voluntary licensing and not-for-profit global production.

“COVAX welcomes doses sharing commitments for 870 million doses to support equitable access to vaccines in 2021 and 2022, with the aim to deliver at least half by the end of 2021,’’ it said.

COVAX, set up by WHO, GAVI the vaccine alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) is part of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) accelerator.

Its mission is to equitably provide COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines to all people globally, regardless of their wealth.

“Facing an urgent supply gap, COVAX is focused on securing as many shared doses as possible immediately, as the third quarter of this year is when the gap between deliveries and countries’ ability to absorb doses will be greatest.

“COVAX will work with the G7 and other countries that have stepped up to share doses as rapidly and equitably as possible.

“This will help address short-term supply constraints currently impacting the global response to COVID-19 and minimise the prospect of future deadly variants.

“COVAX also urges multilateral development banks to urgently release funding to help countries prepare their health systems for large-scale rollout of vaccines in the coming months,” it stated.

Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance also said, “this is an important moment of global solidarity and a critical milestone in the push to ensure those most at risk, everywhere are protected.”.

Similarly, Dr Richard Hatchett, CEO of CEPI said: “As we strive towards our goal of ending the acute phase of the pandemic, we look forward to working with countries to ensure these doses pledged are quickly turned into doses delivered.

“This is a historic moment as leaders of some of the wealthiest counties come together to ensure that all parts of the world have access to life saving vaccines.

“This pandemic has shown us that we cannot set national against international interests. With a disease like COVID-19 we have to ensure that we get it under control everywhere.

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“There is still much to do to get vaccines in arms and ensure our research and development allows us to stay one step ahead of the virus.

“Today we give pause and celebrate a watershed moment of political alignment and collaboration.”

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, stressed: “Many other countries are now facing a surge in cases and they are facing it without vaccines.

“We are in the race of our lives, but it’s not a fair race, and most countries have barely left the starting line. We welcome the generous announcements about donations of vaccines and thank leaders.

“But we need more, and we need them faster.”

Also, Dr Githinji Gitahi, Group CEO, AMREF Health Africa, said: “Africa’s current vaccine supply shortage risks prolonging the pandemic, not just for millions on the continent, but for the whole world.

“I applaud the Group of Seven’s leadership in sharing doses with COVAX and urge them and others to share doses now, not later in the year, when our need is greatest.”

United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF also welcomed G7 nations’ commitment to supporting global access and helping to end the pandemic.

The Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Henrietta Fore, in a statement, said equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines represented the clearest pathway out of the pandemic for all, including children.

She noted that the commitments announced by G7 member were an important step in that direction.

“We have reached a grim milestone in this pandemic; there are already more deaths from COVID-19 in 2021 than in all of last year.

“Without urgent action, this devastation will continue,” Fore said.

The UNICEF top official noted the need for a “ramp up” in both the amount and pace of supply.

According to her, when it comes to ending the COVID-19 pandemic, “our best interests and our best natures align and this crisis will not be over until it is over for everyone.”

In addition, she said the virus mutated and produced new variants that could potentially threaten the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike as the pandemic raged.

“Donating doses now is a smart policy that speaks to our collective best interests,” the UNICEF executive director said.

Fore said distribution and readiness needed clear timelines as to when they would be available, particularly in countries with poor health infrastructure.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the lives of children, affecting every aspect of their lives: their health, education, protection and future prosperity.

“Now, more than ever, what we do today will have a significant and lasting impact on our collective tomorrows. There is no time to waste,” she added.