Japan gives US$800M to UN-backed COVID-19 vaccine program

  • Japan gives US$800M to UN-backed COVID-19 vaccine program

Japan gives US$800M to UN-backed COVID-19 vaccine program

Countries and private donors pledged almost US$2.4 billion on Wednesday to the Covax vaccine-sharing plan, expanding efforts to make Covid-19 shots more available to people in poorer nations.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will pledge up to $800 million toward the COVAX Facility, an global framework for the fair distribution of coronavirus vaccines to developing countries, during an upcoming online summit, government sources said Tuesday.

Photo shows syringes and vials for COVID-19 vaccine developed by Moderna Inc. Together with an already announced contribution from Italy, these commitments filled a funding shortfall of $1.7 billion as of late April. "Japan fully supports efforts to ensure equitable access to safe and effective vaccines for as many people as possible".

South Korean Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said: "Vaccines with proven safety and efficacy should be produced in sufficient scale and rapidly distributed worldwide, including to countries that are vulnerable to health impacts". 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.

Suga will serve as host for an online COVAX summit today, which will also be attended by United States Vice President Kamala Harris, philanthropist Bill Gates, and representatives from Group of Seven nations. Among those facing vaccine shortfalls are numerous 92 low- and middle-income countries and territories in the Advanced Market Commitment part of the COVAX programme. People are still dying every day.

Yoshihide Suga spoke as Japan co-sponsored a fundraising event for COVAX with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which helps run the programme.

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.

Japan has no immediate plans to use the AstraZeneca doses it has on hand and has secured enough supplies of other types of vaccine for its entire population.