Switzerland has confirmed its participation in the World Health Organization (WHO)’s COVAX initiative aimed at ensuring equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines when they are approved.
The government confirmed on September 18 its participation in the initiative to secure vaccines for 20% of the population, it said in a press releaseExternal link on Friday.
“In order to secure a fair distribution of Covid-19 vaccines across the globe, nations across the world have formed the COVAX initiative (COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility) and created a pooled procurement mechanism,” it explained.
More than 60 higher income economies have joined COVAX, according to a September 21 WHO press releaseExternal link. It said more were expected to sign up in coming days. They are joined by 92 low- and middle-income economies eligible for support for the procurement of vaccines. The aim is to procure two billion doses of vaccines from a range of manufacturers by the end of 2021.
Switzerland will contribute CHF20 million ($22 million), according to the government press release. In addition, so-called self-financing countries - that is, higher-income countries such as Switzerland - may contribute additional funds to secure Covid-19 vaccines for their own populations.
Switzerland has also signed a contract with the US firm Moderna Therapeutics for the purchase of 4.5 million doses of vaccine and is in conversation with other vaccine manufacturers. Bern says joining the COVAX initiative is a complementary measure to these procurement efforts.
COVAX is co-led by the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the WHO. Switzerland has been among the initiative’s supporters from the beginning and, together with Singapore, has “led a group of likeminded countries to supervise the development of the COVAX Facility from the perspective of self-financing countries”.
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