Coronavirus vaccine tracker: A World Health Organisation-backed initiative to accelerate the development and manufacture of a coronavirus vaccine and make it available to all has so far garnered only $3 billion in investments, when the need is for at least $38 billion.
This initiative, called the COVAX Facility, aims to pool in resources to accelerate the development of the most promising of the coronavirus vaccine candidates, and then ensure that it is equitably accessible to all the participating countries. This is the alternative to the go-it-alone approach some rich countries like the United States have been taking by funding the development of their preferred candidate vaccines, and pre-booking guaranteed supplies in return, in case these are successful and get approved.
The COVAX Facility, if successful, would ensure that poorer countries are not starved of the coronavirus vaccine whenever it is finally ready. As WHO has repeatedly emphasised, the goal should be to ensure that the vaccine should be available to some people, the most needy ones first, in all countries, rather than to all people in some countries.
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But despite the interest shown by a large number of countries, the actual investments into the initiative have been below satisfactory. On Monday, the WHO director general Tedros Ghebreyesus appealed to more countries to contribute, saying it was not charity, but in the best interest of every nation.
“So far, $3 billion has been invested. This has resulted in a very successful start-up phase, but it is only a tenth of the remaining $35 billion needed for scale-up and impact. $15 billion is needed immediately to maintain momentum and stay on track for our ambitious timelines,” Tedros said.
“We are a critical point and we need a significant increase in countries’ political and financial commitment. This isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Our estimates suggest that once an effective vaccine has been distributed, and international travel and trade is fully restored, the economic gains will far outweigh the $38 billion investment…,” he said.
The director general said if the COVAX Facility was fully functional, it could ensure the availability of two billion doses of coronavirus vaccine by the end of next year.
Hunt for coronavirus vaccine: The story so far
- 182 vaccine candidates in pre-clinical or clinical trials
- 36 of them in clinical trials
- Nine in final stages, phase-III of human trials
- At least eight candidate vaccines being developed in India. Two of these have entered phase -II trials after completing phase-I.
The ones most talked about:
* AstraZeneca/Oxford University
* Johnson & Johnson
* Russian vaccine, developed by Gamaleya Institute in Moscow
* Three vaccines have been approved for use in China without phase-3 trials being completed. One of them has been given emergency use authorisation in UAE
(As on September 18; source: WHO Coronavirus vaccine landscape of September 18, 2020)
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