EU increases its contribution to COVAX to €500 million to secure COVID-19 vaccines for low and middle-income countries

The European Union has announced today it will contribute an additional €100 million in grant funding to support the COVAX Facility to secure access to the future COVID-19 vaccine in low and middle-income countries. The funds will complement the €400 million in guarantees the EU already committed for COVAX, making the Union one of the leading donors. With this new contribution, the EU is further stepping up investment in support of the global recovery.

At the virtual Paris Peace Forum, where world leaders and international organizations are discussing the global response and the recovery from the pandemic, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “In the midst of the wrecking COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear that a global recovery will only be possible if safe and effective vaccines are available to all who need it. The EU is increasing its support to the COVAX Facility to this end and I am proud that Team Europe is a leading contributor to COVAX. Together, we can make the global recovery happen.”

Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, said: “The EU is demonstrating we are serious about our commitments to leave no one behind and make the COVID-19 vaccine a global public good. With this additional 100 million in grant funding, the EU join forces with international partners, in a spirit of solidarity and multilateralism, and will help secure purchase options for future COVID-19 vaccines for those who need it the most in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific countries.”

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: Of all the lessons we have learned this year, the clearest is that there is strength in solidarity. COVAX is an example of this. With this additional contribution we are one step closer to the objective of funding the purchase of 2 billion vaccines for the most vulnerable populations in 92 low and middle-income countries. But more support will be required next year to produce and distribute a safe and efficacious vaccine across the world as soon as it becomes available. We will not relent in this effort.”

The proposed allocation of €100 million from the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) general reserve will adopt the form of a grant contribution to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, as administrator of COVAX Facility, the world’s facility for universal and fair access to COVID-19 vaccines.

To date, a total of 184 countries participate in the COVAX Facility, being 92 of them low and middle-income economies eligible to get access to COVID-19 vaccines through Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC). Through this grant, the Commission and its partners will secure purchase options for future COVID-19 vaccines for all the participants in the Facility, including African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries.

This grant support will strategically complement the €400 million of bank guarantees the EU will make available to Gavi through the European Investment Bank (EIB) in the framework of the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD), raising the total EU contribution for COVAX to €500 million. The €400 million guarantee was also signed this Thursday.

Several EU Member States are contributing as well to COVAX and its underlying objectives, highlighting another example of the power of Team Europe, that is mobilising more than €870 million for COVAX, including the €100 million in EU grant and €400 million in guarantees. The figure also includes new contributions announced today by France (€100 million), Spain (€50 million) and Finland (€2 million).

Vaccines will be procured and delivered to countries by UNICEF Supply Division and the PAHO’s Revolving Fund for Access to Vaccines.

Background

COVAX is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.

The COVAX Facility aims to purchase 2 billion doses by the end of 2021. It will help to develop a diversified portfolio of vaccines, negotiated with different suppliers, and covering different scientific technologies, delivery times and prices. The COVAX Facility is a risk-sharing mechanism: it reduces the risk for manufacturers who invest without being sure about future demand, and it reduces the risk that countries would fail to secure access to a viable vaccine.

The European Commission is committed to ensuring that everyone who needs a vaccine gets it, anywhere in the world and not only at home, and to promote global health. This is why it has raised almost €16 billion since 4 May 2020 under the Coronavirus Global Response, the global action for universal access to tests, treatments and vaccines against coronavirus and for the global recovery. Team Europe‘s contribution was as follows: EU Member States (€3.1 billion), European Commission (over €1.4 billion) and EIB (almost €2 billion pledged in May and €4.9 billion pledged in June).

The EU’s participation in COVAX will be complementary with the ongoing EU negotiations with vaccine companies launched under the EU Vaccines Strategy. The EU’s efforts to develop and produce an effective vaccine will benefit all in the global community. The EU investment in scaling up manufacturing capacity will be to the service of all countries in need. Through its Advanced Purchase Agreements, it requires manufacturers to make their production capacity available to supply all countries and calls for the free flow of vaccines and materials with no export restrictions. For instance, the pharmaceutical company Sanofi-GSK, with whom the Commission concluded an Advanced Purchase Agreement in September, will endeavour to provide a significant portion of their vaccine supply through the COVAX facility.

World leaders and international organizations are participating in this virtual third edition of The Paris Peace Forum, initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron to revive collective governance, international cooperation and multilateralism at a time of growing challenges and when international norms and institutions are being challenged. Discussions this year, under the overarching theme ‘Bouncing back to a better planet‘, will focus on improving the global governance of health and promoting green financing.

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