Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - World leaders pledge $3.2B in Covid-19 jab equity push



World leaders pledge $3.2B in Covid-19 jab equity push

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The total number of doses donated by countries with a surplus now amounts to more than 132 million. AFP

World leaders pledge $3.2B in Covid-19 jab equity push

About $2.4 billion and 54 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines were pledged by some 40 world and business leaders on June 2 to the Covax facility, which will give lower-income countries a better shot at protecting themselves.

They were led by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s pledge of $800 million at the virtual Covax Advance Market Commitment (AMC) summit, co-hosted by Japan and the Gavi vaccine alliance, which coordinates Covax, the facility to ensure the equitable distribution of vaccines.

“To overcome the crisis we now face, we need solidarity and commitment,” Suga said, noting the challenge “cannot be met by one country alone”.

Responding to the rallying call were countries like Australia, the Philippines, Spain and the US, as well as not-for-profit entities like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Companies such as Toyota Tsusho, the trading arm of Japan’s Toyota Group, and UBS Bank also made donations.

Gavi Board chair Jose Manuel Barroso said that with June 2’s donations, contributions in total added up to $9.6 billion for the procurement of vaccines and $775 million for their delivery.

The total number of doses donated by countries with a surplus now amounts to more than 132 million. Before the summit on June 2, the Covax initiative had already raised $7 billion. The pledges exceed the shortfall of $1.3 billion estimated by Gavi to secure the 1.8 billion doses needed to inoculate 30 per cent of the population in 92 low-income countries by the end of the year.

The summit noted that more than 80 per cent of vaccines administered thus far have been in developed countries, leaving developing countries in the dust with just 0.4 per cent of vaccines.

“We must not allow a country’s specific situation or economic power to determine its access to vaccines,” Suga said, as he noted the importance of the Covax facility, which has delivered more than 76 million doses to over 120 countries so far.

Japan’s pledge of $800 million comes on top of a previous donation of $200 million.

Suga said Japan intends to provide around 30 million doses of domestically manufactured vaccines to Covax, with the research and development of vaccines in Japan set to form a key plank in a national strategy against future pandemics announced on May 31.

Universal inoculation is important given the interconnectedness of the global economy, and the unequal availability of vaccines has exposed a chasm between the haves and the have-nots.

Scientists say an equitable roll-out worldwide is key to ending the Covid-19 pandemic, with the global community only as strong as its weakest link. Covid-19 continues to rage in Asia even as infections have fallen in countries like the US, Britain and Israel, where immunisation programmes have advanced.

But even rich countries may feel the fallout. The International Chamber of Commerce Research Foundation estimated a $9.2 trillion loss to the global economy – about half of which would be shouldered by major economies – were vaccines not be delivered to low-income countries.

The Rockefeller Foundation said in an action plan issued on June 1: “As Covid-19 circulates freely in the alleys of Old Delhi and barrios of Sao Paolo, it is rapidly evolving into more infectious and deadly variants that could boomerang back onto wealthy nations and sicken and kill those previously vaccinated.”

Eileen O’Connor, senior vice-president for communications, policy and advocacy at the foundation, told The Straits Times that while June 2’s commitment was a good start, it was still not enough to reach herd immunity in lower-income countries.

“For the global population to be protected, we need to vaccinate at least 60 per cent of populations. This is critically important to stop variants from spreading, breaking through current vaccines and leading to a never-ending cycle of the pandemic,” she said, noting that the challenge was now to secure funding for next year.

She added that it was also essential to build up research and development as well as manufacturing capacity in lower-income countries to enable them to build self-reliance for future health crises.

THE STRAITS TIMES (SINGAPORE)/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

MOST VIEWED

  • PM imposes nationwide Covid restrictions, curfew over Delta scare

    Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28 instructed the municipal and provincial authorities nationwide to strictly enforce Covid-19 measures including curfew for two weeks from July 29 midnight through August 12 to stem the new coronavirus Delta variant. The instruction came shortly after he issued a directive

  • Two luxury hotels latest quarantine options for inbound travellers

    The Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat Covid-19 has designated two luxury hotels as alternative quarantine options for travellers who wish to enter Cambodia through Phnom Penh International Airport – Sokha Phnom Penh Hotel & Residence and the Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh. In a notice detailing guidelines issued

  • Provinces on Thai borders put in lockdown amid Delta fears

    The government has decided to place several border provinces in lockdown for two weeks in a bid to prevent the new coronavirus Delta variant spreading further into community. According a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen late on July 28, the provinces include Koh Kong,

  • China denies Mekong hacking

    As the US and its allies joined hands last week to expose what they allege to be China’s Ministry of State Security’s malicious cyber activities around the world, the attention also turned to Cambodia with the US Department of Justice claiming that four

  • US' Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines arrive

    The first batch of 455,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine donated by the US touched down in Phnom Penh on the morning of July 30. They are part of the total 1,060,100 doses the US has pledged to provide to Cambodia through the World Health Organisation-led (

  • Governor: Covid subsides in capital

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng said the Covid-19 situation in the capital’s 14 districts has eased, with only two districts still recording a high number of infections. “Transmission cases in all districts are dropping, though they are relatively higher Meanchey and Por Sen Chey.