Despite restrictions being lifted in many high-income countries, cases of COVID-19 are rising around the world, especially in areas where much of the population remains unvaccinated. As UN Secretary-General António Guterres pointed out at the ‘2022 Gavi COVAX AMC Summit: Break COVID Now', hosted on April 8, 2022, “We are far from our target of every country reaching 70% vaccination coverage by the middle of this year.”
COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). ACT-A is co-led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and the World Health Organization (WHO), alongside its key delivery partner the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). COVAX has delivered 1.2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses globally; however, more funding is needed to ensure the delivery of vaccines to lower-income countries and to help prepare the world for the unknown impacts of potential new variants.
At the virtual advanced market commitment (AMC) Summit, donors mobilized a total of US$4.8 billion to replenish COVAX. Although this funding falls short of the US$5.2 billion goal, it nonetheless constitutes an “incredible show of global solidarity”. Donors demonstrated that global health and ending the COVID-19 pandemic are still a high priority, despite Russia’s war on Ukraine and its dominance over global policy agendas. Gavi expects the US$400 million funding gap could still be filled; the short runup to this emergency appeal meant that some donors were unable to announce pledges at the event. With Russia’s war on Ukraine dominating the global agenda, donors demonstrated that global health and ending the COVID-19 pandemic are still a high global priority.
The Summit was co-hosted by Germany (G7 President), Ghana, Indonesia (G20 President), and Senegal (African Union chair). German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is leading Germany’s new coalition government (in power since December 2021), is following in Angela Merkel’s footsteps by continuing to show Germany’s leadership in global health. At the event, he reaffirmed: “The global fight against the pandemic will be high on the agenda of the German G7 presidency. It’s important not just to look after ourselves, but to ensure that the rest of the world is vaccinated too.”
Gavi aimed to raise at least US$5.2 billion in urgent financial support for COVAX**.** Of this, US$3.8 billion was to be allocated to Gavi in support of lower-income countries’ COVID-19 relief efforts.
- US$1.1 billion for delivery and ancillary costs including US$600 million in delivery funding to replenish Gavi’s COVID-19 Delivery Support (CDS) Fund, as a new and easy-to-access vehicle to distribute funding to countries, as well as US$545 million to cover ancillary costs for syringes, safety boxes, and shipments to ensure that donated vaccines arrive ready to be administered.
- US$2.7 billion to establish a Pandemic Vaccine Pool that stands ready to be activated in the event COVID-19 case numbers again escalate to crisis levels. This pool as a contingent financial mechanism intended to help support countries in responding to new risks and shocks.
In addition, COVAX aimed to mobilize US$400 million for vaccine delivery for UNICEF and US$1 billion for cost-sharing raised by multilateral development banks based on country demand.
The global community pledged a total of US$4.8 billion. Of that, new sovereign donor pledges totaled US$1.7 billion.
- Japan: Co-host of the 2021 AMC Summit, Japan pledged US$500 million to COVAX, in addition to the US$1 billion it previously disbursed to the COVAX facility. Japan’s Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, announced that Japan has already donated more than 43 million doses of vaccines to economies in need, as well as providing “Last Mile Support” totaling approximately US$160 million to strengthen vaccination capacity. Japan recently pledged US$300 million in new funding to CEPI as well.
- Germany: Germany’s new government, which co-hosted this event, has made health a key topic of their G7 presidency. Germany pledged an additional €400 million (US$435 million) to COVAX, which includes €350 million (US$381 million) for Gavi and €50 million (US$54 million) for UNICEF. This is part of a broader €1.3 billion (US$1.5 billion) funding package for the ACT-A, which is still pending Cabinet and parliamentary approval. Germany is one of the largest donors to COVAX with past contributions totaling US$1.2 billion, as of March 2022. Chancellor Olaf Scholz opened the 2022 Summit and German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Svenja Schulze co-chaired the meeting.
- Canada: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged an additional CAD220 million (approximately US$178 million) for COVAX. This brings Canada's total monetary contribution to COVAX to around CAD700 million (US$566 million) for the purchase, delivery, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for lower-income countries. As of April 2022, Canada has also delivered over 14 million surplus vaccine doses through the COVAX Facility.
- Brazil: Brazil’s Health Minister, Marcelo Queiroga, pledged up to US$86.7 million to the COVAX AMC.
- European Commission (EC): Jutta Urpilainen, the Commissioner for International Partnerships of the EC, announced an additional €75 million (US$82 million) for COVAX to aid vaccine rollout and overcome delivery issues. The European Union has already contributed €1 billion (US$1.1 billion) to COVAX. Together with member states and financing institutions, Team Europe has contributed close to €4 billion (US$4.4 billion). More than 87% of vaccines donated by member states (over 400 million doses) are channeled through COVAX.
- Australia: Marise Payne, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, committed an additional A$85 million (US$63 million) to COVAX, bringing Australia’s contribution to A$250 million (US$186 million). In addition, Australia has donated at least 10 million doses from its supply.
- Finland: Finland pledged €2 million (USD$2.2 million) which is on top of US$18 million already donated to COVAX, as of March 2022.
- Iceland: Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Iceland’s Prime Minister, announced another ISK250 million (US$1.9 million), bringing their total funding to ISK1.25 billion (US$9.7 million).
- Luxembourg: Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg’s Prime Minister, pledged an additional €1 million (US$1 million) to COVAX, in addition to €4 million (US$5 million) the country already committed.
- Vietnam: Vietnam pledged US$500,000 to support COVAX.
- The Regional Government of Catalonia, Spain: Minister of Foreign Action and Open Governance Victòria Alsina announced a contribution of €290,000 (US$316,000) from the Regional Government of Catalonia.
- Estonia: The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Andres Rundu, announced an additional €40,000 (US$44,000) for 2022 to strengthen health systems and support capacity building.
- Malta: Malta pledged €40,000 (US$44,000) to support the global fight against COVID-19.
- A US$1 billion frontloading facility with the European Investment Bank (EIB): The European Investment Bank’s President, Dr. Werner Hoyer, announced a €1 billion frontloading facility for Gavi. The additional financing is subject to approval by 27 EIB shareholders. This funding will support the procurement of doses from local manufacturers, particularly in Africa, and comes on top of the €900 million the EIB has already provided to back the COVAX AMC. This funding will also support the procurement of doses from local manufacturers, particularly in Africa.
- US$1 billion COVAX Rapid Financing Facility from the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC): US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and DFC CEO Scott Nathan announced a new Rapid Financing Facility for Gavi. Through this facility, the US will provide a US$1 billion loan to Gavi to help close the gap between commitments made to COVAX and the delivery of the funds. This will help Gavi to accelerate efforts to purchase vaccines, syringes, and other essential supplies.
- US$200 million Risk Sharing Facility in partnership with the Soros Foundation and Med Access: Catherine Cax, the Acting CEO of Soros Economic Development Fund, announced a new partnership between Gavi, MedAccess, and the Open Society Foundations to create an innovative Risk Sharing Facility to support the COVAX Cost-Sharing Mechanism. US$100 million will be provided by Open Society Foundations and US$100 million will be provided by MedAccess through the Soros Economic Development Fund. The facility is designed to support COVAX’s ambitions to make COVID-19 vaccine procurement more sustainable and more tailored to country needs. The funding can be used by Gavi as a procurement guarantee to enable COVAX to order more doses from manufacturers on behalf of AMC countries choosing to participate in cost-sharing.
- Contingent Pledges are now possible through the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm): Ken Lay, the Board Chair of IFFIm, announced that they will be adding a new mechanism to the IFFIm toolkit. Donors can now make contingent pledges or pledges that are used only when truly needed, to Gavi. In the inactivated phase, a pledge is on stand-by. Once a major outbreak or pandemic triggers the pledge, it moves into the activated phase and IFFIm can raise funds immediately on the capital markets, delivering this funding to the AMC. Last year, IFFIm was able to raise $1 billion on international capital markets through vaccine bonds, making rapid financing available to COVAX backed by 10 donors’ forward pledges.
In mid-January of 2022, Dr. Seth Berkley, chief executive officer at Gavi, said at a press conference “We right now are basically out of money.” This demonstrates just how vital the US$4.8 billion raised at the Gavi COVAX AMC Summit on Friday is to replenishing the funds needed to ensure the swift rollout of donated doses to the countries and people who need it most. With only around 15% of the population in low-income countries having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, COVAX still has an important role to play in helping to balance the glaring global inequities in vaccine allocation and distribution. Despite the lifting of pandemic regulations at home and competing demands of other global crises such as the war in Ukraine, the show of solidarity demonstrated by donors at the Gavi COVAX AMC Summit offers some hope that donor governments are continuing to prioritize global health. It seems like a long time ago that world leaders were rallying around the call that “no one is safe until everyone is safe”, however, it continues to be the truth and we still have a long way to go in ensuring this pandemic ends the world over.