Heads of global organizations plead 50 bln USD for vaccine equity

2021-06-02 04:49:33 GMT2021-06-02 12:49:33(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

WASHINGTON, June 1 (Xinhua) -- Global health and economic leaders on Tuesday called on countries to back urgent financing actions to flatten vaccine inequities and bring the COVID-19 pandemic to an end faster.

Government leaders worldwide should help finance a 50-billion-U.S. dollar roadmap to boost equitable distribution of medical supplies and vaccines and to jumpstart a "truly global and quick" recovery, said chiefs of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank Group, World Health Organization (WHO) and World Trade Organization (WTO).

"While we're encouraged that cases and deaths are continuing to decline in many areas globally. There is no room for complacency," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a joint press conference.

"The consistent use of public health measures in combination with equitable access to medical supplies, oxygen, tests, treatments, and vaccines remains critical," Ghebreyesus said.

"And today, I'm happy to announce that the Sinovac coronavirus vaccine has been given WHO Emergency Use Listing after being found to be safe, effective, and quality assured following two does of the inactivated vaccine," said the WHO chief.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told reporters that the plan, proposed by the IMF in May, would vaccinate at least 40 percent of the world population by 2021, and at least 60 percent by the first half of 2022, while providing additional upfront grants to COVAX, a global vaccine access program led by the WHO.

The plan would help track downside risks such as new variants and ensure widespread testing and tracing, stock of therapeutics as well as health measures in places where vaccine supply is limited, Georgieva said.

The IMF chief noted that countries with more fiscal space and rapid vaccinations are coming out of the crisis faster, but poorer ones are left behind, "that is dangerous for everyone because it would hold the global recovery back."

"It is now increasingly clear to leaders everywhere and to ordinary people that we are not going to succeed in overcoming the economic crisis this pandemic triggered, unless we bring the pandemic to a durable end," Georgieva said in response to a question from Xinhua.

She noted that vaccinating the world is the most effective way to boost global output in the near term. According to IMF estimation, a faster vaccination rollout could inject the equivalent of 9 trillion dollars into the global economy by 2025, due to a faster resumption of economic activity.

Georgieva said that 60 percent of the 9 trillion dollar benefits would go to emerging markets in developing countries, and 40 percent will go to advanced economies to mobilize everyone.

Speaking at the press conference, World Bank Group President David Malpass stressed that it's vital to speed up the supply chain of vaccines globally, urging countries to "shorten the time" from the manufacturing of the vaccine to shots in arms.

"My immediate priority is for countries that have sufficient supply to quickly release doses to countries that have vaccination deployment programs," Malpass said.

The multilateral lender has 12 billion dollars in vaccine financing available now, and "more if needed" to help countries buy and distribute vaccines and encourage vaccinations, he noted.

"At present, too many doses are waiting to be allocated," he said. "They may be stuck in paperwork; sitting in inventory somewhere; or aren't the type of vaccine the country is able to use."

"In order to maximize the number of vaccinations, doses need to be matched to country programs as soon as they are manufactured," said the World Bank chief, adding that it's important to share information about the allocations, so countries can plan ahead.

In response to a question from Xinhua, WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala highlighted four major bottlenecks in global vaccine production and supply: constraint on manufacturing capacity, raw materials supplies, specialized skills in vaccine production, and bureaucracy in some countries.

"The world normally has capacity to manufacture about 5 billion doses of vaccines, but now we need 10 billion to 15 billion doses depending on whether we need boosters. So this is two to three times the capacity," she said.

"We have the means to end this pandemic quickly and save countless lives and livelihoods, but we need the will to make it happen," Ghebreyesus said.

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