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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

The EU Commits €400M in Guarantees to Ensure Equitable Access to COVID-19 Vaccines

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The European Commission announced on Monday that it has joined the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX), committing €400 million in guarantees to support the global collaboration that ensures fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines around the world.

The decision to join COVAX builds upon the European Commission’s 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,” Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said in a video recording on Monday.

“We have to join forces, and that is what the two campaigns Coronavirus Global Response and Global Goal: Unite are doing … And today, we go one step further. The European Commission is ready to join the COVAX Facility.”

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.

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.

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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.

“Global collaboration is the only way to overcome a global pandemic,” von der Leyen said in a press release. “Almost €16 billion have been pledged so far and the most talented researchers and organisations are pooling their efforts to deliver vaccines, tests, and treatments, which will be our universal, common good … I'm confident this will bring us closer to our goal: beating this virus, together.”

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While Australia and now the EU have announced their commitment to COVAX, other G20 states have yet to join the collaboration. Countries were given a deadline of Monday to express interest in joining the initiative aimed to benefit all.