‘Will provide 200 million doses to India for first phase’: Gavi deputy CEO
India received 10 million Covid-19 vaccine doses over the weekend from Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance’s Covax facility created last year to ensure equity access to Covid-19 vaccines across the world, the deputy CEO of Gavi, Anuradha Gupta, told Rhythma Kaul in an interview. Edited excerpts:
In emergency situations, low- and middle-income countries tend to lose out to higher income countries in the vaccine race. Did this fear lead to the creation of Covax?
The Covax facility was set-up to ensure that there was equitable access to vaccines against Covid-19, and low- and middle-income countries did not actually lose out to higher income countries in the Covid-19 vaccine race. WHO, Gavi, and Cepi came together with the intention to bring together countries regardless of their financial status. The concept of Covax facility has strengthened the concept of global solidarity.
How are rich countries contributing to the facility?
The important part is that rich countries that are a part of the Covax facility are paying for their vaccines. The Covax facility has two categories —one is self-financing countries and second is those needing support. There are a total of 190 countries, and 92 low- and middle-income countries will be financed by rich countries. On top of it, Gavi is trying to raise $7 billion from rich countries for about one billion vaccine doses, which will be a part of Gavi’s aim to procure two billion doses by end of 2021.
What is the arrangement with India?
The first tranche of the vaccine supplies has been released for roll out for India, which is about 10 million doses that will take care of India’s initial 30 million vaccination target of front line workers. India is going to vaccinate 300 million high risk population in the first phase, and 200 million doses out of 600 million doses for that will come from Gavi, which is about one-third of its need. The arrangement is 20% of Gavi’s total support will be provided to India, which comes to about 200 million doses. It will cost Gavi about $1.4 billion. Gavi will also provide $30 million for technical assistance...
Will Gavi also use vaccines produced in India for distribution?
The arrangement with India is different as India contributes to Covax facility because their vaccine manufacturing base is solid and appropriate for use in lower and middle income countries. It suits these countries in terms of cold chain, training of workers etc., and India will give us products that are cost-effective and easy to use. WHO approval to India products is what we are waiting for.
What care do countries need to take to ensure gains aren’t wasted?
If the countries are not able to prioritise high risk groups properly, then all this effort will go to waste. The aim should be to make maximum use of limited supplies that we have currently.
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