172 countries engaging with largest COVID-19 vaccine campaign – WHO chief

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Photo taken in Brussels of Belgium on March 16, 2020 shows World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaking at a virtual press conference held in Geneva, Switzerland.
Photo taken in Brussels of Belgium on March 16, 2020 shows World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaking at a virtual press conference held in Geneva, Switzerland. More cases and deaths of COVID-19 have now been reported in the rest of the world than in China, the chief of the WHO said here on Monday, noting that a rapid escalation of the coronavirus cases has been seen in the past week. (Xinhua/Zheng Huansong)

Up to 172 countries have been engaging with the “largest and most diverse COVID-19 vaccine portfolio” coordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN health body’s chief said on Monday.

“At present, there are nine vaccines that are part of this dynamic portfolio,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a virtual press briefing, referring to the COVAX Global Vaccines Facility.

He added that a further nine vaccines are currently under evaluation for the longer term.

COVAX is “a mechanism for joint procurement and pooling risk across multiple vaccines so that whatever vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, all countries within the facility will be able to access them,” said Tedros.

He noted that global competition for vaccine doses could lead to prices spiking exponentially in comparison to COVAX.

The COVAX allocation framework aims at “ensuring that low-, middle- and high-income countries all receive the vaccine in a timely way as soon as there is supply of a safe and effective vaccine,” said Tedros.

According to the WHO chief, it’s important to provide the vaccine to those at highest risk, including health workers, people over 65 years old and those at higher risk of dying from COVID-19 due to certain diseases they already have.

“A number of vaccines are now in the final stage of clinical trials and we all hope we will have multiple successful candidates that are both safe and effective,” Tedros said, adding that the goal of COVAX is to deliver at least two billion doses of vaccines by the end of 2021.

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