World Health Organization briefs the Anglican Communion on the current state of the Covid-19 pandemic and vaccine development
16 December 2020
Dr Sylvie Briand, Director of Global Infectious Hazard Preparedness at the World Health Organization, briefed health professionals, church leaders and members of the Anglican Health & Community Network and Anglican Alliance on the current state of the Covid-19 pandemic and progress towards the roll out of effective vaccines in a webinar held last Thursday, 10th December.
*Foreseeing this eventuality, the WHO and partners set up the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator earlier this year. This unprecedented mechanism brings together “governments, global health organisations, manufacturers, scientists, private sector, civil society and philanthropy, with the aim of providing innovative and equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines”. It includes a vaccine pillar, COVAX, which acts as a platform to support “the research, development and manufacturing of a wide range of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, and negotiate their pricing. All participating countries, regardless of income levels, will have equal access to these vaccines once they are developed. The initial aim is to have 2 billion doses available by the end of 2021, which should be enough to protect high risk and vulnerable people, as well as frontline healthcare workers”.
However, this ambition is subject to sufficient funding and even if that is secured, the mechanism only ensures enough doses to vaccinate “up to 20 per cent of their population in the longer term”. It is also not clear how this mechanism affects or prevents rich countries buying up vaccine stocks in bilateral deals with manufacturers. Already, rich countries have pre-ordered enough doses to vaccinate their populations several times over, while poorer countries are left without.
Countries which find themselves with vaccine supplies they do not need are being asked to donate their excess stock back to the global pot so other countries can use them and wastage of this precious resource is minimised. Dr Lewis asked that churches and people in richer countries advocate that their governments do this, as well as contributing financially to COVAX.
The full set of slides in Dr Briand’s presentation is here.
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