The World Health Organization issued a news release on 24 August 2020, documenting the progress by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in working with countries to ensure the accessibility of COVID vaccines via COVAX, the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.

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According to the news release, COVAX aims to “accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world” by co-sharing of risks, and investing in advance in manufacturing capabilities to ensure early deployment of vaccines, and providing an economy of scale to purchase sufficient volumes to “end the acute phase of the pandemic by 2021”.

Vaccines are intended to be offered equally to all participating countries, proportional to their populations. Healthcare workers will initially be prioritised, followed by vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions. Additional supply will then be provided based on country need, vulnerability and COVID-19 threat. The COVAX Facility will stockpile doses to prepare for emergency and humanitarian use.

“For higher-income countries it represents a win-win: not only will you be guaranteed access to the world’s largest portfolio of vaccines, you will also be negotiating as part of a global consortium, bringing down prices and ensuring truly global access,” Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Governments of 80 higher-income nations will finance the vaccines and have submitted Expressions of Interest (EOI) to the Gavi-coordinated COVAX Facility as of 24 August 2020. Singapore is the only ASEAN Member State which had submitted the EOI and has agreed to be publicly named.

The other 42 countries that have agreed to be publicly named include Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Norway, Palau, Portugal, Qatar, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, South Africa, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Venezuela.

The deadline given by WHO for countries to participate is 31 August 2020.

92 low- and middle-income countries will be supported by the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) if funding targets are met. Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, Vietnam, Philippines are 6 ASEAN Member States in the list. The others include Afghanistan, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Togo, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania and Yemen, Angola, Algeria, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Bolivia, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, El Salvador, Eswatini, Ghana, Honduras, India, Kenya, Kiribati, Kyrgyztan, Lesotho, Mauritania, Micronesia, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, São Tomé and Principe, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Timor-Leste, Tunisia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vanuatu, West Bank and Gaza, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Dominica, Fiji, Grenada, Guyana, Kosovo, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Samoa, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tonga and Tuvalu.

The 172 countries represent over 70% of the world’s population.

Notably absent among ASEAN are Brunei, Malaysia and Thailand.

Reference was made from the World Health Organization’s article: “172 countries and multiple candidate vaccines engaged in COVID-19 vaccine Global Access Facility

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