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2 Jun, 2021 14:42

Australia, Sweden & Spain commit millions more doses & dollars to Covax vaccination scheme as pledged funds beat program target

Australia, Sweden & Spain commit millions more doses & dollars to Covax vaccination scheme as pledged funds beat program target

The governments of Sweden, Spain, Australia, and other states have pledged to donate millions more dollars and Covid-19 vaccine doses to the Covax scheme in a summit which secured pledges that exceed its $8.3 billion objective.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has repeatedly called on developed nations to donate Covid vaccine doses to Covax, which facilitates the distribution of jabs to poorer nations, in order to address global inequality in distribution.

On Wednesday, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the country would give an additional $50 million contribution to the program. Addressing a summit hosted by the Japanese government and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, which backs Covax, Morrison said the additional figure would bring Australia’s total donation to $130 million.

His Spanish counterpart, Pedro Sanchez told the conference that Spain would commit another €50 million ($60 million) to Covax. The government will also donate 15 million more vaccines to Latin America, bringing its total to 22.5 million by the end of 2021, Sanchez said.

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Sweden’s prime minister, Stefan Lofven, who was also present, said he was proud of his country’s donation of over $280 million so far, which he said made it the largest contributor per capita. He added that Sweden plans to increase its previous donation commitment to a total of at least 3 million “unearmarked” doses this year.

Austria will donate another €2.6 million ($3.1 million) to Covax, bringing its total commitment to €5 million ($6 million), Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced.

Earlier on Wednesday, the US announced it would match its previous $2 billion donation to Covax with another $2 billion through 2022. The premiers of Iceland, South Korea, Luxembourg, and the Philippines also pledged financial contributions to the scheme.

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Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga said the summit has secured “much more” than the $8.3 billion target, meaning Covax has reached its goal of securing at least 1.8 billion doses for nearly a third of the population in low and middle-income countries.

The chairman of Gavi, Jose Manuel Barroso, said the summit secured close to $2.4 billion, which brings the total contribution to nearly $9.6 billion for the procurement of vaccines and $807 million for deliveries.

The WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told the summit Covax had delivered almost 78 million doses to 127 countries since February. Of the 1.8 billion vaccines administered globally, just 0.4% have been given in low-income countries, he said.

“This is ethically, epidemiologically and economically unacceptable,” the WHO chief added.

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