Over 60 wealthy nations join WHO's COVID-19 vaccine plan

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More countries will sign up to a global vaccination plan and some of the delays were due to procedural issues rather than doubts about the scheme, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Tuesday.

Ireland is one of 27 European Union member states, plus Norway and Iceland, that is taking part in the programme.

"What that means is we're not just helping Australia, but we're helping the developing world - Asia, Africa, Latin America - countries and people who might otherwise not be able to access a vaccine, through the worldwide buyer's club, the COVAX facility, will have access to vaccines", he said.

COVAX will bring the richer countries together with 92 low- and middle-income economies such as the Philippines and Indonesia, which are eligible for support for the procurement of vaccines through the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), a financing instrument.

The United State, which under President Donald Trump has relentlessly criticised the WHO's handling of the pandemic and which is in the process of withdrawing from the organisation, is not on the list.

There is no approved vaccine for the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus and companies such as Pfizer Inc, AstraZeneca Plc and Moderna Inc have vaccine candidates in late-stage clinical testing.

"China will continue to work with WHO, Gavi and relevant countries on vaccine development", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a news briefing on Tuesday.


The aim is for Covax to lay its hands on two billion doses of safe and effective vaccines by the end of 2021.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, asked whether he knew why China had not yet joined the COVAX scheme, told Reuters he hoped China and the other 37 countries that have not signed up would still do so.

But the mechanism is facing a range of significant challenges, not least a serious funding shortfall.

"Just launched the Phase III trials for a COVID-19 vaccine in Pakistan", said the minister for planning, Asad Umar, who also oversees command and control operations headed by the country's military to combat the coronavirus outbreak.

"Covid-19 is an unprecedented global crisis that demands an unprecedented global response", he said in the statement, warning countries against scrambling to acquire vaccine stocks for their populations alone.

"This is not charity, it's in every country's best interest". "Vaccine nationalism will only perpetuate the disease and prolong the global recovery".

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