International organisations, vaccine manufacturers agree to intensify cooperation on vaccine distributionThursday, September 16, 2021
WASHINGTON, United States (CMC)— Representatives of international financial and trade institutions have held talks with leading vaccine manufacturing companies to discuss strategies to improve the access to coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines, especially in low and lower-middle-income countries in the Caribbean and Africa.
Caribbean countries have been at the forefront in urging vaccine producing countries to export the product to allow them to effectively deal with the impact of the virus that has resulted in more than 300,000 confirmed positive cases with more than 6,700 deaths.
Earlier this week, Caricom leaders met in an emergency session to discuss the matter and “agreed to continue to advocate for vaccine equity and access as well as financing and debt sustainability at the United Nations General Assembly and the United States Global COVID-19 Summit, both to be held later this month”.
According to a statement, the leaders of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) World Bank Group, World Health Organization (WHO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) met with the manufacturers and the Task Force expressed concerns that without urgent steps, the world is unlikely to achieve the end-2021 target of vaccinating at least 40 per cent of the population in all countries.
They regard that figure as a critical milestone to end the pandemic and for global economic recovery.
The Task Force noted that, despite adequate total global vaccine production in the aggregate, the doses are not reaching low and lower-middle-income countries in sufficient amounts, resulting in a crisis of vaccine inequity.
The Task Force encouraged countries that have contracted high amounts of vaccine doses, and vaccine manufacturers, to come together in good faith to urgently accelerate COVID-19 vaccine supplies to COVAX and AVAT, two multilateral mechanisms that are crucial for equitable distribution of vaccines.
It also welcomed the willingness of the chief executive officers of the vaccine manufacturers to work collectively with them to end vaccine inequity and their readiness to form a technical working group with the Task Force to exchange and coordinate information on vaccine production and deliveries.
The Task Force stressed that if the 40 per cent coverage threshold is to be reached in all countries by the end of 2021, several actions need to be taken immediately by governments and vaccine manufacturers.
It noted that countries with high vaccination rates have collectively pre-purchased over two billion doses, an excess of what is required to fully vaccinate their populations.
“The Task Force calls again on those countries to urgently: i) swap their near-term delivery schedules with COVAX and AVAT, ii) fulfil their dose donation pledges with unearmarked upfront deliveries to COVAX, and iii) release vaccine companies from options and contracts so those doses can be delivered to people in low and lower-middle-income countries. In addition, vaccine manufacturers should prioritize and fulfil their contracts with COVAX and AVAT.
“To ensure that doses reach countries that need them the most, particularly low and lower-middle-income countries, the Task Force calls on vaccine manufacturers to share details on month-by-month delivery schedules for all vaccine shipments, especially for COVAX and AVAT.”
The Task Force is also calling for the elimination of export restrictions, prohibitions, and that countries should urgently address export restrictions, high tariffs and customs bottlenecks on COVID-19 vaccines and the raw materials and supplies required for the production and timely distribution of vaccines.
“The Task Force calls on all regulatory authorities around the world to create regulatory consistency and standardisation on the approval of vaccines and to support the acceptance of the WHO Emergency Use Listing procedure. In parallel, efforts should be made to boost production of vaccines, diagnostics and treatments globally and expedite equitable delivery of such lifesaving tools to developing countries.”