European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the European Union (EU) was ready to join the COVAX Facility, a pooled procurement mechanism for vaccines against Covid-19.
On Monday, the Commission also announced a 400 million euro ($477 million) contribution in guarantees to support COVAX, which aims to ensure equal and fair access to vaccines for “low and middle income countries” reports Xinhua news agency.
Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for international partnerships, noted that only by “securing equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines across the world, will we end the pandemic and ensure a sustainable recovery”.
The EU’s participation in COVAX will be complementary to the ongoing negotiations of the bloc with vaccine companies that aim at scaling up the manufacturing capacity.
The COVAX Facility aims to purchase two billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021 by negotiating with a diversified portfolio of suppliers covering different scientific technologies, times of delivery and prices.
Launched in April, the COVAX is co-led by the Vaccine Alliance Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to the WHO, nine CEPI-supported candidate vaccines are currently parts of COVAX, with further nine under evaluation.
The talks are ongoing with additional producers.
The 18 vaccine candidates being developed in various clinical phases or discovery stages are mainly from the US, the UK, China, Germany, Australia and South Korea.
To date, 80 potentially self-financing countries have expressed interest in joining COVAX, while 92 low and middle-income economies are eligible to be supported by the COVAX Advance Market Commitment.