The European Union says it has given additional €500 million for the COVAX Facility, doubling its contribution to date for the global COVID-19 vaccine initiative.
The latest pledge brings the contribution by the EU closer to achieving its COVAX’s target to deliver 1.3 billion doses for 92 low and middle income countries by the end of 2021.
The COVAX is part of Team Europe’s effort to secure fair and equitable access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines in low and middle-income countries.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said at the G7 virtual leaders’ meeting that the latest contribution was part EU’s Coronavirus Global Response.
“Last year, as part of our Coronavirus Global Response,
we committed to ensuring universal access to vaccines everywhere on Earth, for everyone who would need them,” Mr von der Leyen, said.
He said the contribution is composed of a new €300 million EU grant and €200 million in guarantees by the European Fund for Sustainable Development plus (EFSD+) that will back a loan by the European Investment Bank.
The loan is subject to the adoption of the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) by the Council and the European Parliament.
The EIB loan to be guaranteed by EFSD+ is subject to the approval of the EIB’s Board of Directors to complement a previous €100 million grant and €400 million in guarantees from the EU budget.
Team Europe is one of the lead contributors to COVAX with over €2.2 billion, including another €900 million pledge on Friday by Germany.
The EU Commission President said the decision to double the European Commission’s contribution to €1 billion was because COVAX was best placed to help reach EU’s goal, that’s why
“With this new financial boost we want to make sure vaccines are soon delivered to low and middle-income countries. Because we will only be safe if the whole world is safe.”
The Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said Europe is in a race against the virus, noting COVAX was the best hope for all partners in Africa and elsewhere to access safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines.
The EU has been part of international fora, including G20 and G7, to guarantee that COVID-19 vaccines become a global public good.
The Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said the EU has invested close to €3 billion to pre-finance the production of safe and effective vaccines for the benefit of not only the EU, but also citizens across the world.
To date, Ms Kyriakides said a total of 191 countries have participated in the COVAX Facility, with 92 of them low and middle-income economies, mostly in Africa, eligible to get access to COVID-19 vaccines through GAVI COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).
The EU said through these contributions, the Commission and its partners would secure options to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for all participants in the facility in future.
Under the facility vaccines would be procured and delivered to countries by the United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (Unicef) Supply Division and the PAHO’s Revolving Fund for Access to Vaccines.
The COVAX Facility aims to purchase 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, including at least 1.3 billion doses for low and middle-income country.
It will help to develop a diversified portfolio of vaccines, negotiated with different suppliers, and covering different scientific technologies, delivery times and prices.
The European Commission says it is committed to ensuring that everyone who needs a vaccine gets it, anywhere in the world, and to promote global health.
Together with its partners, the EU has so far helped in raising almost €16 billion since May 4, 2020 under the Coronavirus Global Response, the global action in support of universal access to tests, treatments and vaccines against coronavirus and for the global recovery. Team Europe’s contribution includes, EU Member States (€3.1 billion), European Commission (over €1.4 billion) and EIB (almost €2 billion pledged in May and €4.9 billion pledged in June).
As part of efforts to build on the EU vaccines strategy, the EU said it was in the process of setting up vaccine sharing mechanism to allow EU member states to redirect some of the doses procured under the advanced purchased agreement, preferably through COVAX.