The initiative was set up by Gavi, the vaccine alliance, and the WHO to guarantee fair access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.
The effort was launched in June and is known as the COVID-19 Global Vaccine Access Facility (Covax facility). The initial goal was to raise $2bn (€1.75bn) to immunize healthcare workers and high-risk individuals in Gavi-supported countries.
More recently, the WHO was able to announce that 75 countries, among which are more than half of the world’s G20 economies, have submitted expressions of interest to partner with up to 90 lower-income countries to finance access to vaccines.
Engaging with the initiative means that countries are guaranteed to receive a share of doses, even those that have agreed their own supply of vaccines directly with manufacturers.
Further than this, Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, outlined other benefits: “Even for those countries that are able to secure their own agreements with vaccine manufacturers, this mechanism represents, through its world-leading portfolio of vaccine candidates, a means of reducing the risks associated with individual candidates failing to show efficacy or gain licensure.”
Gavi will achieve this by sharing the risk with manufacturers themselves, through investment in manufacturing capacity upfront – as represented by the organization’s agreement with AstraZeneca.
As part of a deal for access, Gavi will commit $750m, alongside CEPI, to manufacture 300 million doses of AZ’s potential vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
The overall target for the Covax project is to deliver two billion doses of vaccine equally across all participating countries, proportionally to their populations. Any vaccination project would prioritize healthcare workers and then move on to covering 20% of the population.
The Covax facility will also hold a reserve of doses ‘for emergency and humanitarian use’, including for use against any severe outbreaks.