Devex Newswire: The first country to share vaccine doses with COVAX

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France is the first high-income country to donate vaccines to COVAX, announcing it will hand over 500,000 doses to the global procurement mechanism by June.

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France’s donation kickstarted the “Team Europe” vaccine donation mechanism, and could be a sign that wealthy countries that have overpurchased vaccine doses might be starting to feel some sense of global responsibility.

The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator — of which COVAX is a part — marked one year in operation last week. Here is a breakdown of funding for the ACT-Accelerator so far, courtesy of the initiative’s newly-released impact report. The U.S. government is the leading funder, but has been less cooperative when it comes to solving some of COVAX’s biggest problems — vaccine hoarding, export bans, and intellectual property.

 Source: WHO

WHO head Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus writes in the New York Times that the current approach to vaccine distribution is “unacceptable,” and describes what a more successful year two might look like.

As manufacturers race to push COVID-19 doses out the door, international agencies are starting to worry that vaccines for other diseases might fall by the wayside, Jenny Lei Ravelo reports. One of the markets facing potential supply constraints: syringes.

Read: France commits to donating 500,000 vaccine doses to COVAX

BETTER LATE

With India in the midst of a COVID-19 spike — and U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration under fire for not doing more to help — Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, got on the phone with his Indian counterpart on Sunday. Sullivan’s spokesperson announced the U.S. will provide:

•  Raw materials for vaccine manufacturing.
•  Therapeutics, rapid diagnostic test kits, ventilators, and personal protective equipment.
•  The U.S. International Development Finance Corp. will fund a manufacturing expansion for the vaccine manufacturer BioE, allowing the Indian producer to make 1 billion doses by the end of 2022.

The European Commission, Britain, and Germany have also announced they’ll be sending supplies and oxygen to India.

INSIDE THE WORLD BANK

Just over a year ago, the World Bank announced a COVID-19 response package of $160 billion. On Thursday, Magnus Lindelow, the bank’s practice manager in the Africa region, will join my colleague Raquel Alcega to discuss the bank’s successes and challenges in funding and procurement during this unprecedented year.

Devex Pro Live: How World Bank health funding adapted during the pandemic. Reserve your spot.

CUTTING LOSSES

The European Commission is pulling back more than $120 million in assistance to Eritrea. Vince Chadwick says it’s a sign that the bloc’s attempt to mix development assistance and political dialogue with the oppressive East African nation has reached the end of the line.

“Trying to fund projects without proper monitoring mechanisms and due diligence in a context marred by pervasive forced labor, the EU risked to contribute to the government’s abuses,” says Laetitia Bader of Human Rights Watch.

Read: EU pulls Eritrea funding, citing Tigray conflict, 'lack of interest'

KEEPING SCORE

Foreign Policy for America, a nonpartisan group that advocates for “principled American engagement in the world,” has a new legislative scorecard that tracks how U.S. lawmakers vote on key foreign policy legislation. I caught up with Andrew Albertson, who leads the organization, to hear his takeaways from putting it together.

•  Democrats appear more supportive of these issues than Republicans — which seems to challenge the notion of a “bipartisan consensus” on global development.

•  “It is a little heartbreaking to see that polarization and how it's played out in votes and issues that we care deeply about,” Albertson told me. Part of the problem, he said, is that votes often get set up in an attempt to highlight political divides instead of areas of agreement.

•  “There really hasn't been a lot of accountability in the past on foreign policy votes. There's a lot of people ... voting on issues they don't really think people are going to pay attention to or are ever going to call them to account.”

LIGHT TOUCH

“We need always to keep in mind that in our dialogue with our African partners, we can pass the message of our concerns, but we shouldn’t impose public policy decisions.”

— Francisco André, Portugal’s secretary of state for foreign affairs and cooperation

In supporting Africa’s transition to clean energy, Europe should prioritize dialogue over trying to impose public policies, Portugal’s top representative on development tells Vince.

IN OTHER NEWS

Rights activists are protesting Iran's election to a four-year term on the Commission on the Status of Women, given the country's poor record on women's rights. [VOA]

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro pledged to increase spending to address Amazon deforestation at last week’s climate summit, but the 2021 federal budget he approved Friday contained a funding cut to the country's environment ministry. [BBC]

Cutting methane emissions may have a bigger role in reducing the effects of climate change than previously thought, according to a landmark U.N. report expected next month. [New York Times]

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About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.