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How WHO is Fighting Unequal Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccines

Agadir – With the emergence of the disturbing trend of “vaccine hoarding,” as governments scramble for COVID-19 vaccines, the World Health Organization (WHO) is stepping up for low and middle-income countries. 

COVAX is an initiative co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the WHO. It aims to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines while also ensuring a fair and equitable distribution across the world.

COVAX is one of the pillars of the ACT Accelerator, a global-collaboration led by the WHO, to urge for a more equitable distribution of the tools needed for diagnostics, treatment, vaccines, and the overall improvement of healthcare infrastructure.

According to the WHO, the ACT Accelerator has been the “the fastest, most coordinated, and successful global effort in history to develop tools to fight a disease.” As of January 18, the ACT Accelerator funding commitments made up $6 billion (MAD 54 billion), with another $4 billion (MAD 36 billion) in projected funding.

Of the 190 participant countries, 92 low- and middle-income countries will have access to donor-funded doses of vaccines.

Read Also: Morocco to Adopt Free COVID-19 Vaccine Campaign for All Moroccans

On December 18, 2020, the WHO announced that it has secured access to nearly two billion doses of several vaccine candidates, of which 1.3 billion will be distributed to 92 low and middle-income economies. COVAX has guaranteed access to some of the first wave of vaccines, aiming for a 20% population coverage of the most vulnerable groups by the end of 2021. Morocco is one of the beneficiary countries eligible for aid under COVAX.

COVAX also announced on January 22, the signing of an advance purchase agreement for up to 40 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of WHO, has long lamented about “vaccine nationalism” and decried the unequal distribution of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccines. “Even as vaccines bring hope to some, they become another brick in the wall of inequality between the world’s haves and have-nots,” Ghebreyesus said recently.

For the WHO chief, globally equitable access to vaccines, especially for healthcare workers and other at-risk groups, is the only way to overcome the impact that COVID-19 has had on the public health and the economy of many low and middle-income countries.

COVAX aims to deliver the first vaccines to the participating countries in the first quarter of 2021.

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