Geneva, 10 May 2021 – Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance today welcomed a significant boost to its efforts to procure COVID-19 vaccines for lower-income countries, as governments, businesses and philanthropy pledged over US$ 60 million and millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses to the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (COVAX AMC) this weekend. The Gavi COVAX AMC is a part of COVAX, the global initiative working to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
These new commitments were made at Global Citizen’s Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World broadcast special on Saturday, 8 May which featured powerful messages of support vaccine equity from artists, entertainers, and world leaders.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced that it would donate 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine to lower-income countries via the COVAX AMC. The UAE, through its global supply chain, also pledged to distribute 25 million COVID-19 doses around the world to support COVAX.
“International cooperation is a really important mechanism that we as government officials have been speaking about for decades. The pandemic has shown us what can happen when we truly do cooperate with one another, but also what doesn’t happen when we don’t,” said H.E. Reem al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation.
Croatia as part of Team Europe also underscored its commitment to vaccine equity with new dose sharing and funding announcements.
Croatia pledged to share 50,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Kosovo, and committed €500,000 (US$ 600,000) to the COVAX AMC.
"We shall continue to be one of the countries that supports these activities, both on the national level, but also at the European and global level, too,” said H.E. Andrej Plenković Prime Minister of Croatia.
Spain also reiterated its recent commitment to share at least 7.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses with Latin American and Caribbean countries through COVAX. While New Zealand highlighted its pledge made last month to donate more than 1.6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses through COVAX.
In addition, Canada pledged an additional CAD 375 million to the ACT-Accelerator to provide vaccines, tests, and treatments to lower-income countries.
Donations through the COVAX Facility dose sharing mechanism will follow the Principles for Dose-Sharing, which provides a framework for economies to share vaccine doses with others, including from their self-financed COVAX allocations or secured via bilateral deals. Doses shared through the Facility are directed primarily to Gavi COVAX AMC-eligible economies, on an equitable basis. This will help to increase vaccine coverage, ensure that no dose goes to waste, and help to bring an end to the acute phase of the pandemic. The design and operationalization of the COVAX dose sharing mechanism is being supported by a contribution of CAD 5 million from Canada.
During the two-hour Vax Live event, Mastercard pledged US$ 25 million to the COVAX AMC to support equitable vaccine distribution and COVID-19 related digital solutions. In addition, Mastercard is encouraging consumers to make a direct impact through the Mastercard donation platform. The company is incentivizing participation by matching donations made through 16 May 2021 up to US$ 4 million via the Mastercard Impact Fund. Donations made with a Citi Mastercard in that same period will be double matched up to US$ 1 million. A portion of the Mastercard contribution will be matched by the Gavi Matching Fund for an additional US$ 10 million.
“We are committed to the health and well-being of individuals as part of our effort to build an inclusive and sustainable digital economy for everyone, everywhere,” said Michael Froman, vice chairman and president of Strategic Growth for Mastercard. “The work that Gavi is doing to ensure equitable access to vaccines across the world is imperative to that effort, and we will continue to partner with them with both our philanthropic support and our technology to help them achieve their goals.”
Several other organizations also committed significant additional resources for the Gavi COVAX AMC:
A Swiss foundation wishing to remain anonymous is offering to match all donations that are not already subject to matching schemes; the result so far is US$ 13.66 million in additional support for the Gavi COVAX AMC.
Further, the same foundation has committed up to CHF 15 million in additional match funds to continue to encourage the private sector, philanthropy and high-net worth individuals to contribute towards the Gavi COVAX AMC. This new challenge will run until early June, with contributions between US$ 100,000 and US$ 1 million eligible for a match.
“We are immensely grateful for the new pledges from philanthropy and the private sector, and we welcome the United Arab Emirates commitment to donate their excess doses to COVAX,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi. “Now we need more countries and organizations to follow their lead and let COVAX deliver to health workers and those at highest risk for COVID-19, so that no single country is left behind.”
To ensure global equitable access becomes a reality, the Gavi COVAX AMC must be fully financed. This will require an additional US$1.6 billion by June in order to lock in supplies for 2021 and early 2022.
Countries with surplus vaccinations are also encouraged to urgently share their doses to help those countries that have been worst hit by current global supply constraints.
During the event, Heads of State and public figures including His Holiness Pope Francis, US President Joe Biden, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi, Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sánchez, President of France Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, and Prime Minister of Croatia Andrej Plenkovic, made urgent appeals for global solidarity to help the world's most marginalized communities and health care workers access the vaccine.
In a parallel effort to help meet urgent demand for COVID-19 vaccines in lower-income countries, Vax Live campaign co-chairs Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, urged the public to contribute to COVAX through the Mastercard donation platform.
The appeal was made by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex on Thursday, 6 May to mark their son’s birthday, and has already mobilized US$ 535,000, which will help purchase 107,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Globesight, a strategic advisory firm for social impact founded in the UAE, was one of the corporations to answer the call, donating with enough matched funding to ensure 20,000 vaccine doses will be made available for vulnerable populations around the world.
"We wanted to do our part as the situation continues to be very challenging for far too many countries where people simply do not have access to vaccines," said Taufiq Rahim, President of Globesight. While Globesight often works behind the scenes, Rahim felt it was important to signal that everyone needs to step up. "Every contribution right now is important," he added.
As Vax Live co-chairs, the Duke and Duchess are helping lead a worldwide effort to equitably distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to everyone, everywhere, and delivered an important message of equity during the broadcast.
“The virus does not respect borders, and access to the vaccine cannot be determined by geography. It must be accepted as a basic right for all and that is our starting point,” Prince Harry said.
In addition to helping drive urgent funding to COVAX, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have written an open letter to the CEOs of the leading COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, calling on them to provide COVAX with faster access to additional vaccine doses and to support all possible measures to increase the global vaccine supply for everyone.