Botswana on its Independence Day commemoration implored other countries to join it in signing up to access the COVID-19 vaccine, it has emerged. Botswana currently has over 2400 COVID-19 cases.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO)data dated 30 September, Botswana was among the 64 higher-income economies which have joined the COVAX Facility. This is a global initiative that brings together governments and manufacturers to ensure eventual COVID-19 vaccines reach those who need it the most, whoever they are and wherever they live.
On the same date, the WHO quoted Botswana’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Edwin Dikoloti as saying;
“COVAX and the idea of equal access to a COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of ability to pay, is not just a moral imperative, it is the only practical solution to this pandemic.
Protecting everyone is the only way we can return our world – our trade, tourism, travel, business – to normal.”
Dikoloti reportedly added; “We urge those countries who have not yet signed up to do so. Let us work together to protect each other.”
The WHO further states that by pooling financial and scientific resources, these participating economies will be able to insure themselves against the failure of any individual vaccine candidate and secure successful vaccines in a cost-effective, targeted way. The 64 members of the Facility will be joined by 92 low and middle-income economies eligible for support for the procurement of vaccines through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), a financing instrument aimed at supporting the procurement of vaccines for these countries.
This means 156 economies, representing roughly 64% of the global population are now either committed to or eligible for the COVAX Facility, with more to follow.
WHO believes that with the Commitment Agreements secured, the COVAX Facility will now start signing formal agreements with vaccine manufacturers and developers, which are partners in the COVAX effort, to secure the doses needed to end the acute phase of the pandemic by the end of 2021. This is in addition to an ongoing effort to raise funding for both R&D and for the procurement of vaccines for lower-income countries via the Gavi COVAX AMC.
“COVAX is now in business: governments from every continent have chosen to work together, not only to secure vaccines for their own populations but also to help ensure that vaccines are available to the most vulnerable everywhere,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which is coordinating the COVAX Facility was quoted as saying.
“With the commitments we’re announcing today for the COVAX Facility as well as the historic partnership we are forging with industry, we now stand a far better chance of ending the acute phase of this pandemic once safe, effective vaccines become available.”
The COVAX Facility is part of COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, which is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and the World Health Organization (WHO) – working in partnership with developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, UNICEF, the World Bank, Civil Society Organisations and others.
The allocation of vaccines, once licensed and approved, will be guided by an Allocation Framework released soon by WHO following the principle of fair and equitable access, ensuring no participating economy will be left behind. Policies determining the prioritisation of vaccine rollout within economies will be guided by recommendations from the WHO Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE), which has recently released a Values Framework laying the groundwork for subsequent guidance on target populations and policies on vaccine use.