BY MIRA NADARAJAH
In May, APC members and the philanthropic community came together to successfully pool US$1.5 million towards the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (COVAX AMC), an innovative financing mechanism enabling access to COVID-19 vaccines for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). With matching funds from a public charity bringing total funding to US $3 million, the efforts will yield some 600,000 vaccines earmarked specifically for Asia.
The idea of supporting COVAX’s COVID-19 relief efforts came about during an APC online dialogue on vaccine development and distribution in early 2021. The dialogue explored the role of philanthropy in ending the pandemic. It quickly became clear that without mass vaccinations, the world would not be able to return to normalcy. While wealthier countries are set to reach their vaccination targets by the third quarter of 2021, LMICs remain widely unvaccinated. The health and economic repercussions of inequitable and disparate access to vaccines will continue to be felt globally. And thus—a coordinated global response is therefore necessary to truly abate the knock-on effects of the virus.
During this dialogue, speakers from Gavi, UNICEF, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation highlighted the significant shortfall in funding delaying the equitable distribution of vaccines across the world and the critical needs of LMICs, which remain hardest hit by the pandemic. Speakers also discussed how Gavi’s COVAX facility, in pooling demand from different countries, is able to effectively negotiate vaccine procurement and deployment.
All this is to say that a lot more funding is required to produce, procure, and distribute vaccines to parts of the world which need it most—and this plea for greater philanthropic involvement spurred APC members to come together to help plug the gap.
Following the dialogue, several APC members got in touch to find out how they could contribute to the global vaccination efforts. APC stepped in to help members coordinate their efforts to pool the US$ 1.5 million target needed to achieve fund matching by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance with funds provided by a public charity, towards securing and delivering much-needed vaccine doses for Asia.
It has been heartening to enable our members to contribute in addressing the global vaccine shortage, even as they conduct their own COVID-19 related efforts in their own communities. It is APC’s hope that through this joint effort, the contributions will help mitigate the widespread impact of the pandemic on communities in Asia. Increasing the supply of the vaccines to LMICs is an important first step, and a necessary part of the equation, in bringing the pandemic to an end.