Published: Fri, February 19, 2021

United Kingdom joins France in push to hand vaccines to poorer nations

United Kingdom joins France in push to hand vaccines to poorer nations

US officials, speaking to journalists on condition of anonymity ahead of the call, said that President Joe Biden would announce a total of $4 billion in funding for COVAX but that the country did not plan to share any of its doses with other nations until its domestic vaccination needs were met.

Biden will announce the new contribution during a virtual meeting of the G7, according to a senior administration official.

Advocates have called on the Biden administration and other wealthy nations to make plans for donating surplus doses, in addition to ramping up their financial contributions. Allowing high numbers of infections to continue across the world is also likely to lead to new virus variants that can threaten to prolong the pandemic for rich and poor countries alike, experts argue.

The company is hoping that the emergency use listing would streamline the process of providing supply to COVAX, which would help distribute vaccines to lower-income countries.

The vaccine is being rolled out in South Africa, for the first time outside a major clinical trial.

The federal government has agreed to top up its funding for vaccine rollouts in lower-income countries, pledging $75 million more to the COVAX worldwide vaccine-sharing program as other wealthy countries step up their commitment.

However, some organisations said the funding and donations announced, while welcome, were still not enough.

The Group of Seven industrialized nations are the United States, Germany, Japan, Britain, France, Canada and Italy.

The World Health Organization on Thursday urged nations with vaccines not to share them unilaterally, but to donate them to the global COVAX scheme to ensure fairness. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week that the Biden administration was watching "those actions with concern".

The Biden administration believes that supporting COVAX "is one of the best ways to expand access to Covid vaccines", the Biden official said, noting that the global effort works only with vaccines that meet World Health Organization standards for both safety and efficacy.

Other wealthy nations have also begun reserving large orders of vaccines, leaving poorer nations to rely on the COVAX initiative for their populations - or on countries such as China, India and Russian Federation, who have begun directly donating their state-produced vaccines to other nations. The vaccine, which is administered in a one-dose jab, is also pending emergency use authorization from the FDA. The first COVAX doses are expected to begin arriving in dozens of countries next week. "We also call on our G7 and other partners to work alongside Gavi, to bring in billions more in resources to support global Covid-19 vaccination, and to target urgent vaccine manufacturing, supply, and delivery needs".

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