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Senior Clinical Research Nurse Ajithkumar Sukumaran prepares the COVID 19 vaccine to administer to a volunteer, at a clinic in London, Aug. 5, 2020.
Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP
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EU Commits €500M in Guarantees and Grants to Ensure Equitable Access to COVID-19 Vaccines


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The European Investment Bank agreed Monday that the entirety of the €400 million commitment made by the European Commission in August to the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX) will support buying vaccine doses for low- and middle-income countries through the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (COVAX AMC).

Together with a €100 million grant from the European Commission, announced in November, the €500 million in financing will support equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in 92 low- and middle-income countries.

"This vital funding from the European Commission and the European Investment Bank ensures that lower income economies are not left behind when a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is available," Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said in a press release. "Team Europe’s support will play a vital role in ending the acute phase of this pandemic.

"This funding is a tremendous boost as we look to raise at least an additional US $5 billion in 2021 to ensure equitable distribution of these vaccines to all those who need them.”

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, confirmed that these commitments will be enough for COVAX to make 1 billion doses of the vaccines available.

"Together with the EU Member States, Team Europe has so far allocated more than €850 million to COVAX, which makes the European Union COVAX’s biggest donor," she said.

The European Commission’s decision to join COVAX earlier this year built upon on its campaign with Global Citizen, Global Goal: Unite for Our Future, which called on world leaders, corporations, and philanthropists to commit the funds necessary to ensure equitable access of COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines for everyone, everywhere — especially for the world’s poorest and most marginalized communities. Global Goal: Unite helped mobilize more than $1.5 billion in grants and $5.4 billion in loans and guarantees — nearly $7 billion pledged in total.

“No country, no continent, can defeat the coronavirus on its own,” von der Leyen said in a video recording on Aug. 31. “We have to join forces, and that is what the two campaigns Coronavirus Global Response and Global Goal: Unite are doing."

Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance launched COVAX in April with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization (WHO). COVAX aims to purchase 2 billion doses of the future COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021.

The facility will distribute the vaccine in a way that ensures global equitable access, and allow any country, regardless of its ability to pay, access to the vaccine.

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Equal vaccine distribution is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic because guaranteeing vaccines for one nation alone will not stop the virus from spreading, taking lives, and devastating the global economy, according to the World Health Organization. In other words, in the context of this virus, no one is safe until everyone is safe.

To prevent vaccine nationalism, the hoarding of vaccines by rich countries, from derailing global recovery, the WHO and other organizations that make up the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator are encouraging wealthier countries to pool their resources instead of competing against one another. COVAX is the vaccine pillar of the ACT-Accelerator.

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The €500 million in COVAX financing from the EU will priorize high-risk and vulnerable populations as well as frontline workers in low- and middle-income countries. UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), on behalf of COVAX, will procure and deliver the vaccines.


Editor's note: This story was originally published on Aug. 31 and has been updated to reflect further details of the €500 million commitments.