Australia has committed a further $50 million to COVID-19 vaccine sharing partnership COVAX, bolstering the initiatives’ ability to distribute vaccines to vulnerable people in some of the world’s poorest countries.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the new funding, announced during a major donation summit in Japan, brings the nation’s total contribution to $130 million — following an $80 million injection in August.
Along with new donations by countries like Canada, Sweden, France and Switzerland, US$2.4 billion was raised, bringing total COVAX financing to just under $10 billion.
In a joint statement, Morrison and Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the new funds would help close the global vaccine gap and ensure high-risk individuals, health workers, frontline personnel and vulnerable groups across the world are prioritised.
"This additional contribution will help COVAX deliver on its objective of vaccinating 30% of populations of AMC countries, from an original goal to reach 20% of their populations,” the leaders said. “Australia's contribution will assist the COVAX AMC to deliver more than 1.8 billion doses worldwide, reaching at least 114 million people in Southeast Asia and the Pacific.”
Thirteen million COVAX-sourced vaccines have already made their way throughout Southeast Asia and the Pacific this year.
Australia’s new commitment of $50 million to #COVAX to help vaccinate the 🌏 is welcomed news! 🎉🙌— End COVID For All (@EndCOVIDForAll) June 2, 2021
This won’t end for anyone, until it ends for everyone.
We must continue to invest in closing the global vaccine gap.
While aid organisations have welcomed the funding, many said more support is desperately needed.
The End COVID For All movement, supported by organisations like the Australian Council for International Development, Global Citizen and Campaign for Australian Aid, revealed Australia is now spending around $5 per citizen on COVAX.
Countries like Germany, meanwhile, are spending closer to $18.
Campaign spokesperson Tim Costello said it was simply unacceptable that high-income nations are being vaccinated 30 times faster than lower-income countries and that the world's poorest countries have received less than 1% of all administered jabs.
"While today’s announcement is welcome, Australia can and should do more,” he said in a statement.
The latest Australian injection to COVAX follows other major commitments to COVID-19 vaccine equity.
Last year, Payne announced a new Regional Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative to help the nation's Pacific and Southeast Asian neighbours "access and administer safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines." The initiative has grown to $623 million and includes $100 million for Australia's Quad partnership with Japan, India and the United States to send a billion doses to South East Asia by the end of next year.
Direct health and economic support have also been sent to Papua New Guinea, Fiji, India and Timor-Leste amid current outbreaks.