Suga pledges $800 million to COVAX Facility

Joanna Estrada
June 3, 2021

Japan on Wednesday pledged an additional $800 million toward an global effort to ensure the fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines amid a widening gap between nations in administering shots.

Japan has already pledged US$200 million to COVAX, and the country is expected to announce donations of vaccine doses to the programme, the newspaper said without citing a source.

Photo shows syringes and vials for COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna Inc.

The Covax mechanism, which has distributed 77 million doses to 127 countries, aims to accelerate access to 1.8 billion vaccine doses, covering almost 30% of poorer nations' populations.

To prepare for future pandemics, Suga said Japan would be "improving the clinical trial environment, including through capacity building support".

"We must not allow a country's specific situation or economic power to determine its access to vaccines", Suga, who co-hosted the meeting, said in his opening remarks.

The COVAX mechanism has distributed 77 million doses to 127 countries since February but has been stymied by India restricting exports of vaccines amid a major epidemic. The U.N. -backed initiative has so far garnered roughly $7 billion.

The announcements, ranging from $2 500 from island nation Mauritius to millions of dollars and doses from larger, wealthier countries, came during a video summit hosted by Japan and the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, which leads the Covax facility alongside the World Health Organisation. The European Union has also collectively committed 100 million doses.

Philanthropist Bill Gates said: "High-income countries have reserved more vaccines than they need". "People are still contracting COVID-19". People are still dying every day.

The announcement came at an online vaccine summit which Japan co-hosted with the GAVI vaccine alliance, an global group that promotes vaccinations in developing nations, reported NHK World.

Japan is looking to increase its contribution to the COVAX Facility partly to counter China, which is offering vaccines to developing countries as it expands its economic and military influence across the Indo-Pacific region.

Suga added that Japan also plans to supply 30 million vaccine doses manufactured in the country, taking into account the spread of coronavirus variants and the delay in vaccine shipments.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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