The beginning of the end – within our grasp
G20 Issue

The beginning of the end – within our grasp

The COVAX Facility – a unique international collaboration – is our best hope for ending the acute phase of the pandemic, and success will not just determine how quickly we end this current crisis, but will also help us prepare for the next pandemic

Nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the coronavirus is still winning. This crisis continues to escalate. Governments have spent trillions of dollars on response and domestic economic stimulus, but that is not sustainable if we do not also invest in an exit plan. Thanks to unprecedented global solidarity, we now have that exit plan – the COVAX Facility.

A unique international collaboration, the COVAX Facility really is the only truly global solution to COVID-19 and our best hope for ending the acute phase of the pandemic, because it is the only way to get fast, fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. The fact that countries the world over have chosen to take the path of global cooperation and solidarity in the face of such an immediate and existential threat is a truly historic achievement.

By working together through COVAX, countries are not just securing vaccines for their own populations; they are also ensuring that vaccines are available to the most vulnerable in every country, not just the wealthy few. This is the fair and right thing to do – and it is also necessary and in everyone’s best interest. Until everyone is protected from COVID-19, we are all at risk.

With nine candidate vaccines already in development, eight of which are in clinical trials, and with several more under evaluation, the COVAX Facility has the largest and most diverse portfolio of COVID-19 vaccines. This is important because, even though there are now more than 200 COVID-19 vaccines in development, most of them are likely to fail.

A global insurance policy

Historically, vaccines at the preclinical stage have less than a 10% chance of succeeding. Those that make it to clinical trials have about a 20% chance. As such, COVAX is a global insurance policy, guaranteeing countries with bilateral deals vaccine doses even if those deals fail and throwing a lifeline to the majority of countries that would otherwise have limited or no access at all to COVID-19 vaccines.

With more than 180 countries involved, representing around 90% of the global population, the initial aim of the COVAX Facility is to produce two billion doses by the end of 2021, enough to protect high-risk and vulnerable people as well as front-line healthcare workers.

To do this COVAX – under the stewardship of Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization – needs $1.6 billion immediately to complete research and development and to enable the COVAX Facility to ensure manufacturing is in place and early vaccine doses can be procured.

And through the Gavi COVAX Advanced Market Commitment, we need to secure additional funding – at least another $5 billion by the end of 2021 – to ensure that the world’s poorest countries get equitable access and are ready to deliver vaccines at scale when the moment comes.

Success will not just determine how quickly we end this current crisis, but will also help us prepare for the next pandemic. Because there will be a next one. The emergence of novel viruses of pandemic potential is an evolutionary certainty. But with the COVAX Facility – the biggest multilateral effort since the Paris climate agreement – the beginning of the end of this pandemic is within our grasp. We need to act now to finish the job.