People wearing face masks wait for a dose of COVISHIELD, a vaccine against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, on May 4, 2021 at a vaccination center in New Delhi, India.
Adnan Abidi | Reuters
Global business and health leaders urged the world’s wealthier nations to provide $ 50 billion in funding to accelerate the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines around the world and help end the pandemic.
The heads of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization said on Tuesday that nations must act before the virus can spread to unvaccinated countries and develop into more dangerous new varieties.
The group, which published a comment in newspapers around the world this week, said there is a two-pronged pandemic with richer nations vaccinating large swaths of their populations while poorer countries have received less than 1% of the vaccines they are being given far behind “.
“While some affluent countries are already discussing the introduction of booster vaccinations for their populations, the vast majority of people in developing countries – even the frontline health workers – have still not received their first vaccination,” the signed comment said by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Bank President David Malpass and WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
“It is now completely clear that there will be no broad-based recovery without an end to the health crisis. Access to vaccination is key to both, ”they wrote, noting that $ 50 billion will generate up to $ 9 trillion in additional global production in 2025 through an accelerated end to the pandemic.
The money would go to increasing production capacity, supply and delivery, which would accelerate the equitable distribution of diagnostics, oxygen, treatments, medical supplies and vaccines.
“Trade cooperation is also needed to ensure free cross-border flows and increase supplies of raw materials and finished vaccines,” they said.
They said the money was “a relatively modest investment by governments compared to the trillions spent on national stimulus programs and trillions of lost economic output.”
“WTO members can and should perform on all three fronts,” said Okonjo-Iweala. The trading group currently has members from 159 countries around the world.
The WHO announced last week that Africa would need at least 20 million AstraZeneca Covid vaccine doses over the next six weeks to receive the second round of vaccinations to people who have already received the first vaccination. The continent has received only 1% of all vaccines administered worldwide and needs another 200 million doses of all approved Covid-19 vaccines to vaccinate 10% of the continent by September.
“More than 700 million doses of vaccine have been given worldwide, but over 87% went to high- or middle-income countries, while low-income countries only received 0.2%,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom told a briefing last month .
Many countries have had to rely on COVAX, a global collaboration of organizations such as WHO and UNICEF, for their doses to expedite the production and delivery of Covid-19 vaccines around the world.
WHO and its COVAX partners hope to be able to vaccinate 30% of the population in all countries by the end of 2021 if they receive enough funds.
“Through other agreements and increasing investments, this can even be up to 40 percent and by the first half of 2022 at least 60 percent,” said the agency’s heads.