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World Bank, IMF, others parley over increased vaccine for Africa

By Geoff Iyatse
17 September 2021   |   4:23 am
Heads of the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund, World Health Organisation (WHO) and World Trade Organisation (WTO) have met with representatives of leading COVID-19 vaccine...

Heads of the World Bank Group, International Monetary Fund, World Health Organisation (WHO) and World Trade Organisation (WTO) have met with representatives of leading COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers for improved supplies to low and middle-income countries, including Africa.

The meeting was held under the Multilateral Leaders Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines.

In a statement by IMF, the task force feared that in the absence of urgent steps, the world was unlikely to achieve the target of vaccinating at least 40 per cent of the global population by the end of the year.

The goal is a critical milestone to end the pandemic and kick-start full economic recovery.

The statement said members of the panel noted that adequate total global vaccine production, sufficient doses were not reaching the affected countries, a situation that has resulted in a crisis of vaccine inequity.

Both the World Bank and IMF had previously expressed concern about the emerging two-track economic recovery, owing to uneven distribution of vaccines and warned that developing countries would need some assistance to curb the challenge.

“The Task Force encouraged countries that have contracted high amounts of vaccine doses, and vaccine manufacturers, to come together in good faith to urgently accelerate COVID-19 vaccine supplies to COVAX and AVAT, two multilateral mechanisms that are crucial for equitable distribution of vaccines.

“Task Force members welcomed the willingness of the CEOs (of vaccine manufacturing companies) to work collectively with them to end vaccine inequity and their readiness to form a technical working group with the Task Force to exchange and coordinate information on vaccine production and deliveries,” the latest statement by IMF said.

The meeting, according to the statement, noted that countries with high vaccination rates have collectively pre-purchased over two billion doses above what is required to fully vaccinate their populations. Such countries were called upon to swap their near-term delivery schedules with COVAX and AVAT, fulfill their dose donation pledges with unearmarked upfront deliveries to COVAX and release vaccine companies from contracts so that the doses could be delivered to countries with poor vaccination records.

The meeting also called on all countries to urgently address export restrictions, high tariffs and customs bottlenecks on COVID-19 vaccines, raw materials and supplies required for the production and timely distribution of vaccines.