The virtual Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment Summit on Wednesday secured about $2.4 billion, with the largest pledge of $800 million coming from Japan.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga — who co-hosted the event with José Manuel Barroso, board chair at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance — said the country’s latest funding announcement brings its total contribution to the COVAX AMC to $1 billion.
The total amount raised at the summit includes new pledged money from private sector companies and foundations.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also announced that the European Union, together with the European Investment Bank, will “reorient” €300 million ($370 million) to COVAX. This is new EIB financing to help African Union countries access vaccines via the COVAX cost-sharing scheme.
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Five countries also pledged to share vaccine doses. Suga said Japan intends to provide 30 million doses of vaccines manufactured in-country to other nations, including through COVAX “when circumstances allow and at an appropriate time.”
Belgium, Denmark, Spain, and Sweden also announced new commitments amounting to 24 million vaccine doses. Most of the commitments are for COVAX, though Denmark said a “substantial part” of the 3 million doses it plans to donate will be to the COVAX AMC. The pledges from Spain and Sweden, meanwhile, are on top of their previously pledged dose commitments of 7.5 million and 1 million doses, respectively.
In addition to the $2.4 billion, donors also pledged $775 million for vaccine delivery.
“This funding will allow the COVAX AMC to secure 1.8 billion fully subsidised doses for delivery to lower-income economies in 2021 and early 2022. This is enough to protect nearly 30% of the adult population in AMC-eligible economies,” according to a Gavi news release.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris delivered a statement at the summit, reiterating previously announced U.S. support to COVAX of $4 billion through 2022, but did not pledge any new money or doses.
In a press briefing following the summit, Gavi CEO Seth Berkley said that the funding can help lock in vaccine supplies for 2021 and early 2022. But he stressed the need for countries to share vaccines. At the moment, COVAX expects a supply shortfall of 190 million doses by the end of June.
The 54 million doses newly announced at the summit is in addition to previously announced dose-sharing commitments. The issue will be timing and how to get the doses “as early as possible” to fill the current supply gap, said Berkley.
To date, 132 million doses have been shared to COVAX, according to Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao, managing director for resource mobilization and private sector partnerships at Gavi. Some doses have already gone to countries, she said.
“This funding will allow the COVAX AMC to secure 1.8 billion fully subsidised doses for delivery to lower-income economies in 2021 and early 2022.”— A news release from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance
Berkeley said every vaccine is considered for addition to the COVAX portfolio, and he welcomed the news that Sinopharm and Sinovac had received World Health Organization emergency use listing for their vaccines. “That means that they potentially could be procured. … And we will continue to look at them and ... see if we come to a deal,” he said.
The Sputnik V vaccine, meanwhile, has yet to receive WHO prequalification, and Gavi does not currently have an advance purchase agreement for the vaccine.
As for countries looking to donate doses bilaterally, “getting doses into countries and into arms is what matters,” Berkeley said.
“But if we want to get equitable access, then the problem is ... if countries are just picking their favorites. What that also means is there’ll be countries that will not be favorites,” he said.
“So that's why we're encouraging donations to go through COVAX. What we want, of course, are doses that are still with manufacturers ideally, that have ... long shelf lives, and obviously vaccines that have prequalification,” the Gavi CEO said.