Vaccine alliance raises $2 billion to buy COVID shots for poor nations



© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a small bottle labeled with a “Vaccine COVID-19” sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration

By Kate Kelland and Stephanie Nebehay

LONDON/GENEVA (Reuters) – A facility set up by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the GAVI vaccine group has exceeded an interim target of raising more than $2 billion (1.5 billion pounds) to buy and distribute COVID-19 shots for poorer countries, but said it still needs more.

The GAVI alliance said on Friday that the funds for an advance market commitment (AMC) will allow the COVAX facility to buy an initial one billion vaccine doses for 92 eligible countries which would not otherwise be able to afford them.

“We’ve seen sovereign and private donors from across the world dig deep and help meet this target,” GAVI chief Seth Berkley told reporters, adding that there was an “urgent need” to also finance treatments and diagnostics.

Berkley said $3 billion was still needed for diagnostics and $6.1 billion for therapeutics by the end of 2020.

Another $5 billion will also be needed in 2021 to procure COVID-19 vaccine doses as they come through development and are approved by regulators, GAVI said in a statement.

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer (N:) and its partner BioNTech (DE:), who this week said their experimental COVID-19 vaccine was 90% effective in initial trials, had expressed an interest in supplying doses to the COVAX facility, Berkley said.

“We continue to advance negotiations with a number of manufacturers in addition to those we’ve already announced who share our vision of fair and equitable distribution of vaccines,” he added.

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