Human clinical trials of Covid-19 vaccines are underway in several countries, including India. Globally, almost 200 vaccines are under development. This is an astounding number for any vaccine development effort in human history. It is also a reason for hope that one or more candidates will be able to beat the coronavirus, and will be available for use by the end of 2021. No one, at this stage, knows which will be that vaccine. The global community, however, is getting ready to use it.
The question uppermost in the minds of people is: will everyone be able to get the vaccine and afford it. India is better somewhat placed because it has both research infrastructure and vaccine manufacturing capacity. Still, if the new vaccine is not from India, then what happens? What about poor countries with no vaccine development projects or local manufacturers?
This week a new global mechanism was unveiled for countries to access a future Covid-19 vaccine, with WHO as one of the sponsors. Countries capable of financing vaccines from their own national budgets will have to notify this mechanism – known as the Covax facility – so that low income countries not in a position to afford vaccination could be provided financial help. Funds will be generated through donations to the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, which is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among others.
Apart from them, the third partner in Covax is Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) which is an alliance of public, private and civil society. CEPI has initiated nine partnerships to develop vaccines against the novel coronavirus.
Among partners in Gavi are also several vaccine manufacturers. While Covax is being projected as a global mechanism, it is dominated by private vaccine manufacturers and Western donors, with WHO not being in the driving seat. For ensuring transparency and genuine equitable access to a future Covid-19 vaccine, any global mechanism should be led by the United Nations or the WHO.
(Courtesy of Mail Today)