German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged €100 million ($117 million) on Wednesday to help developing countries procure future vaccines for the coronavirus.
The commitment comes after Germany already pledged €675 million at two previous donor conferences.
“Today, I am in a position to announce another €100 million that we have earmarked as special funds for Gavi,” she said through a translator, referring to the vaccine alliance.
“This is Germany’s contribution towards ensuring that developing countries have access to COVID-19 vaccines,” Merkel added. She said the pandemic must be tackled on a global level and called on countries to get involved in the program.
The announcement came as United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for countries to help fund the World Health Organization’s global vaccine plan.
Guterres said the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator program and its COVAX facility had already received €3 billion but needs another €35 billion for full funding. The program aims to deliver 2 billion doses of COVID-19, 245 million treatments and 500 million tests to developing countries by the end of next year.
“The ACT-Accelerator provides the only safe and certain way to reopen the global economy as quickly as possible. A national vaccine effort in a handful of countries will not unlock the doors to the global economy and restore livelihoods,” Guterres told a high-level virtual UN event.
“The $3 billion it has received has been critical for the start-up,” he told the event. “Now we need to scale-up and ensure maximum impact — and that requires an additional $35 billion. That must begin with an immediate infusion of $15 billion.”
“These resources are crucial now to avoid losing the window of opportunity for advance purchase and production, to build stocks in parallel with licensing, to boost research, and to help countries prepare to optimize the new vaccines when they arrive,” Guterres said.
British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab pledged an additional 250 million pounds ($322 million, €275 million), so long as other countries joined the fundraising drive.
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven pledged $10 million while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau touted a $440 million commitment made last week.
Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates addressed the summit, announcing that his foundation had signed a new agreement with 16 biotech firms to expand global access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. He said the world was on the brink of a “great scientific achievement” in the form of a vaccine, but that low- and middle-income countries were only on track to cover just 14% of their populations with a COVID-19 vaccine.
aw/sms (dpa, Reuters, AFP, AP)