The German Parliament’s budget committee approved €1.5 billion ($1.8 billion) in additional funding for the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator, a global coalition launched in April to speed up the development of COVID-19 tools and treatments and to ensure their equitable distribution, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Much of that funding appears earmarked for vaccine distribution and development through the ACT-Accelerator’s COVAX Facility, according to initial committee reports.
The World Health Organization is currently predicting a $27 billion shortfall for the ACT-Accelerator. The German government has come under pressure from civil society groups recently to help make up the difference, which International Chamber of Commerce Secretary General John Denton called a “rounding error” compared with the potential costs of not funding a fully equitable treatment and recovery effort. Germany had already pledged $677 million to the initiative.
Sweden is also channeling additional money directly into COVAX. Per Olsson Fridh, the country’s new minister for international development cooperation, confirmed a $12 million increase in funding for the facility, doubling Sweden’s COVAX support.
The new funding comes amid a growing outcry in low- and middle-income nations, where the rollout of vaccines has dragged well behind that in the more privileged countries that secured the majority of available doses of the most promising vaccine candidates. Many countries are now waiting on allocations of vaccines through COVAX before they can begin immunization campaigns.