In what seems to be the largest coming together of nations for a single cause since World War 2, a total of 184 countries and economies have joined COVAX, an international initiative co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners to ensure effective and equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“COVAX represents the largest portfolio of potential COVID-19 vaccines and the most effective way to share safe and effective vaccines equitably across the world,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a virtual press conference.
“Equitably sharing vaccines is the fastest way to safeguard high-risk communities, stabilize health systems and drive a truly global economic recovery,” he added.
With the only hope against the virus being a vaccine, multiple countries have ventured into vaccine development. In order for equal distribution and to prevent ransom holding, WHO has taken the lead role with the formation of COVAX and the vaccine alliance GAVI. Malaysia has formally submitted to be part of the program and according to MOSTI Minister YB Khairy Jamaluddin, we will be ensuring vaccine availabilty for Malaysians when the time arrives. China has also officially joined COVAX, a move described by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson as an important step.
With the coming of winter in the northern hemisphere and sharp acceleration in the number of new COVID-19 cases, Tedros warned that the next few months will be tough, particularly in Europe and North America.
“So it’s important that all governments focus on the fundamentals that help to break the chains of transmission and save both lives and livelihoods,” Tedros said.
As the world is struggling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, countries across the globe are racing to find a vaccine. According to the website of WHO, as of Oct. 19, there were 198 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 44 of them were in clinical trials.