INTERNATIONAL organisations and vaccine manufacturers have agreed to intensify cooperation to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to low and lower middle-income countries in Africa.
Heads of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank Group, World Health Organisation and World Trade Organisation (WTO) met with chief executive officers of leading manufacturing companies to discuss strategies of improving access to COVID-19 vaccines especially low- and lower middle-income countries in Africa.
This was according to a statement issued in Lusaka from Washington DC.
It stated that the Task Force express concerns that without urgent steps the world was unlikely to achieve the end 2021 target of vaccinating at least 40 per cent of the population in all countries.
This, they said, was a critical milestone to end the pandemic and for global economic recovery.
The Task Force members 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.
Task Force members welcomed the willingness of the chief executive officers 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 was to be reached in all countries by the end of 2021, it was important to release doses to low and lower middle income countries.
“Countries with high vaccination rates have collectively pre-purchased over two billion doses in excess of what was required to fully vaccinate their populations,” the Task Force members added.
The Task Force called on those countries to urgently swap their near-term delivery schedules with COVAX and AVAT, fulfil their dose donation pledges with unearmarked upfront deliveries to COVAX, and 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 to COVAX and AVAT.
By BUUMBA CHIMBULU