The Australian Government officially joined a landmark agreement Wednesday that ensures a future COVID-19 vaccine reaches everyone, not just those who can afford it.
The COVID-19 vaccine allocation plan, or COVAX, pools funds and resources from developed and developing countries to drive vaccine research and development — with the ultimate goal of generating 2 billion COVID-19 vaccines by 2021.
The ensuing vaccine will be equitably distributed, with developing nations guaranteed access and supported to purchase additional doses. Initially, every COVAX participating nation will receive enough vaccines to cover 3% of their respective populations, with the intention of immunising health care workers and at-risk individuals first.
Additional doses will then be delivered on a rolling basis until 20% of a nation's population is covered.
Because Australia is a developed nation, the country paid over $123 million to join the facility.
As a result of the hefty injection, Australia has been granted access to the purchasing mechanism of the facility, which allows the nation to receive offers to purchase additional vaccines for its citizens once available.
Should COVAX be successful, Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a vaccine.
Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt said signing up to COVAX was a win for both Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.
“Whoever finds a COVID-19 vaccine must share it,” he said in a statement. “Being a part of COVAX means we’re giving Australians the best chance of accessing a safe and effective vaccine, but also our neighbours in the Pacific and Southeast Asia.”
🎊🎊 ANOTHER WIN! 🎊🎊 Thank you @MarisePayne, @GregHuntMP, @ScottMorrisonMP & @AlexHawkeMP for pledging $123M to the COVAX Facility. This will help ensure a #COVID19 vaccine reaches everyone, not just those that can afford it! Global Citizens, YOU helped make this happen! https://t.co/wmGpFnwojE— Global Citizen Australia (@GlblCtznAU) September 23, 2020
Foreign Minister Marise Payne affirmed it also makes economic sense for Australia’s to support the facility.
"Access to vaccines will play a critical role in the economic recovery of our region from this pandemic,” she said. “Now more than ever, we must come together as a global community to ensure that our response leaves no one behind.”
Australia’s COVAX agreement is now the third in the nation’s pool of COVID-19 vaccine investments.
Australia also invests in the Oxford University and University of Queensland trials.
Australia and over 150 other countries have joined the COVAX Facility.
As of Wednesday, 80 of these nations are self-financing countries, and 92 are eligible to receive support — including Kiribati, Cambodia, Solomon Islands, Laos, Tonga, Tuvalu, Timor-Leste, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Vanuatu.
COVAX is coordinated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization (WHO), and is one of the four pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.
Australia’s pledge follows a separate $80 million injection to COVAX in August.