The heads of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, World Health Organisation and World Trade Organisation recently met with the leaders of the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), Africa CDC, Gavi and UNICEF at the third meeting of the Multilateral Leaders Taskforce on Covid-19 to rapidly scale-up vaccines in low- and lower-middle-income countries.
"The global rollout of Covid-19 vaccines is progressing at two alarmingly different speeds. Less than 2.0 per cent of adults are fully vaccinated in most low-income countries compared to almost 50 per cent in high-income countries," they said in a statement following the meeting.
"These countries, the majority of which are in Africa, simply cannot access sufficient vaccines to meet even the global goals of 10 per cent coverage in all countries by September and 40 per cent by end 2021, let alone the African Union's goal of 70 per cent in 2022."
"This crisis of vaccine inequity is driving a dangerous divergence in Covid-19 survival rates and the global economy. We appreciate the important work of AVAT and COVAX to try and address this unacceptable situation," the statement read.
"However, effectively tackling this acute vaccine supply shortage in low- and lower-middle-income countries, and fully enabling AVAT and COVAX, requires the urgent cooperation of vaccine manufacturers, vaccine-producing countries, and countries that have already achieved high vaccination rates. To ensure all countries achieve the global goals of at least 10% coverage by September and 40 per cent by end-2021, we call on countries that have contracted high volumes of vaccines to swap near-term delivery schedules with COVAX and AVAT, " it added.
Also, the meeting called on vaccine manufacturers to immediately prioritise and fulfil their contracts to COVAX and AVAT, and to provide regular, clear supply forecasts.
It urged G7 and all dose-sharing countries to fulfil their pledges urgently, with enhanced pipeline visibility, product shelf life and support for ancillary supplies, as barely 10 per cent of nearly 900 million committed doses have so far been shipped, according to WAM.
"We are in parallel intensifying our work with COVAX and AVAT to tackle persistent vaccine delivery, manufacturing and trade issues, notably in Africa, and mobilise grants and concessional financing for these purposes. We will also explore financing mechanisms to cover future vaccine needs as requested by AVAT. We will advocate for better supply forecasts and investments to increase country preparedness and absorptive capacity," the statement said.