People wearing protective face masks wait to receive a dose of COVISHIELD, a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, at a vaccination centre in New Delhi, India, May 4, 2021.
Adnan Abidi | Reuters
Global economic and health leaders called on the world’s wealthier nations to provide $50 billion in funding to accelerate Covid-19 vaccine distribution across the planet and help end the pandemic.
The heads of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Health Organization and World Trade Organization said Tuesday that nations need to act before the virus has a chance to spread throughout unvaccinated countries and evolve into more dangerous new variants.
The group, which published an op-ed in newspapers across the globe this week, said there was a two-track pandemic brewing with richer nations vaccinating large portions of their populations while poorer countries that have received less than 1% of the vaccines administered so far “being left behind.”
“Even as some affluent countries are already discussing the rollout of booster shots to their populations, the vast majority of people in developing countries — even front-line health workers — have still not received their first shot,” according to the op-ed signed by IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Bank President David Malpass and WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
“By now it has become abundantly clear there will be no broad-based recovery without an end to the health crisis. Access to vaccination is key to both,” they wrote, noting that $50 billion will generate some $9 trillion in additional global output by 2025 by accelerating an end to the pandemic.
The money would go toward increasing manufacturing capacity, supply and delivery, which would accelerate the equitable distribution of diagnostics, oxygen, treatments, medical supplies and vaccines.
“Cooperation on trade is also needed to ensure free cross-border flows and increasing supplies of raw materials and finished vaccines,” they said.
They said the money is “a relatively modest investment by governments in comparison to the trillions spent on national stimulus plans and lost trillions in foregone economic output.”
“WTO members can and should deliver on all three fronts,” Okonjo-Iweala said. The trade group currently has members from 159 countries around the world.
The WHO said last week that Africa needs at least 20 million AstraZeneca Covid vaccine doses within the next six weeks to get the second round of shots to people who’ve already received the first. The continent has received only 1% of all of vaccines administered globally and needs another 200 million doses of any cleared Covid-19 vaccines to vaccinate 10% of the continent by September.
“More than 700 million vaccine doses have been administered globally, but over 87% have gone to high income or upper middle-income countries, while low income countries have received just 0.2%,” the WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom, said in a briefing last month.
Many countries have had to rely on COVAX for their doses, a global collaboration of organizations like the WHO and UNICEF, to speed the production and delivery of Covid-19 vaccines across the world.
The WHO and its COVAX partners hope to vaccinate 30% of the population in all countries by the end of 2021, if they get enough funding.
“This can reach even 40% through other agreements and surge investment, and at least 60 percent by the first half of 2022,” the agency leaders said.