$2bn vaccine pledge 'not enough' to tackle Covid-19 in poor countries

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A financing scheme to ensure poor countries get fair access to Covid-19 vaccines has raised more than €2 billion – but organisers say much more money is needed to beat the pandemic.

The Covax facility, run by the World Health Organisation and GAVI vaccine alliance, is an "insurance policy" that works to buy and distribute vaccines in 92 low and middle-income countries that could not otherwise afford them.

Following pledges Thursday by the European Commission, France, Spain, South Korea, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation other private donors, Covax now has the means to distribute 1 billion doses.

“Reaching that €2 billion target was an important milestone, however it's really critical that we keep going,” GAVI chief executive Seth Berkeley told journalists Friday.

A further $5 billion is needed next year, he says, to ramp up testing and medical care in parallel with efforts to immunise key workers and vulnerable people.

“We don't yet know which vaccines will work … or the yield in manufacturing and production, but this estimate allows us to get what we think will be needed,” Berkeley added.

Experts have warned that a “shopping spree” by rich nations to secure future Covid-19 vaccines for their own populations risked depriving billions of poorer people of the chance to become immunised.