Covid: UK, allies raise Shs3.8 trillion for vaccine access

Wednesday January 13 2021
world02pix

Covid vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNTech was found to be effective in preventing 90 percent of Covid-19 infections. PHOTO/SHUTTERSTOCK.

By Tonny Abet

The United Kingdom has said it has helped raise $1 billion (Shs3.8 trillion) from global donors towards the drive to help “vulnerable countries” such as Uganda access the Covid-19 vaccine.

In a statement, the British High Commission in Kampala noted that London had committed $548 million (Shs2 trillion) to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC).

COVAX AMC is a financial mechanism coordinated by the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunisation (GAVI).

The initiative seeks to leverage the scale assured by the participation of higher-income economies to ensure that lower-income ones are also able to access the vaccines timely. It had raised $2.4 billion [Shs8.8 trillion] by last December, according to information on GAVI website.

Mr Dominic Raab, the UK foreign secretary, was quoted in the Sunday press statement to have said: “…the UK has led with our allies to make one billion doses of coronavirus vaccine available to vulnerable countries. We’ll only be safe from this virus, when we’re all safe – which is why we’re focused on a global solution to a global problem.”

Last month, Dr Henry Mwebesa, the director-general of health services at the Ministry of Health, was quoted by New Vision newspaper to have said Uganda was exploring accessing Covid-19 vaccines through COVAX.

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In addition, he reportedly said they expect to receive 18 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine by next month and that Uganda government would pay for this first batch.

The Ministry of Health budget for vaccinating all Ugandans is $405 million (Shs1.4 trillion), according to permanent secretary Dr Diana Atwine.

However, according to GAVI, COVAX is working with pharmaceutical partners to have manufacturing in place so that doses can be procured and produced at scale as soon as vaccines receive regulatory approval and are licenced.

The agency said its initial aim is to have two billion doses available by the end of this year.

“Half of which will go to lower-income countries – which should be enough to protect high-risk and vulnerable people, including frontline health and social care workers, across the world,” GAVI said in a statement on its website.

The COVAX AMC has met its urgent 2020 fundraising target of US$ 2 billion (Shs7.6 trillion), but at least $4.6 billion (Shs16.9 trillion) more is needed in 2021 to procure doses of successful candidates as they come through the portfolio, according to GAVI.
Norway, Canada, Kuwait, Denmark, New Zealand, Singapore, The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief)/Gamers Without, Estonia and other European Union countries have already made pledges or contributions towards COVAX facility, according to GAVI.

tabet@ug.nationmedia.com

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