COVID-19 summit nets several more vaccine pledges

Alongside a new 500-million COVID-19 vaccine dose pledge yesterday from the United States to help bridge the world’s supply gap for lower-income countries, several other countries announced fresh support, the World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners said today.

The pledges came in response to a mostly virtual global COVID-19 summit, hosted by US leaders and held on the sidelines of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly meeting under way in New York this week.

In a statement today summing up major announcements that came at the summit, the WHO said Sweden pledged an additional $243 million in cash contributions and vaccine that it will make available in 2021 and 2022.

Other dose donations came from Japan, with a pledge of 60 million doses, Italy with 30 million, and Spain with 7.5 million. Denmark announced at the UN General Assembly that it would double its dose donation, which will now total 6 million.

In another development, Team Europe added to its previous pledge, which now totals 500 million vaccine doses by the middle of 2022.

The United States and the European Union also announced a joint agenda for battling the pandemic, which emphasized dose sharing and supporting critical readiness activities.

In another shot in the arm for global dose-sharing efforts, the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), which functions as the US development bank, said it would provide $383 million in political risk insurance to Gavi, which is facilitating COVAX shipments.

The step will help Gavi manage its financial risk and navigate financial hurdles with governments that are buying vaccine through the COVAX program. It will also allow Gavi to pre-purchase 2 billion vaccine doses directly from manufacturers and allocate them quickly and equitably.

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore welcomed the renewed commitments and praised countries that made the new pledges, but she also pressed them to urgently fulfill their promises. “Low-income countries can no longer wait. We urge dose-sharing countries to accelerate their donation plans,” she said in the statement.

To reach goals of vaccinating 40% of the world’s population by the end of the year and 70% by the middle of next year, 2 billion COVID-19 doses are needed, global health officials say. COVAX officials project that 1.2 billion doses will be available for low-income countries by the end of the year. It expects to reach the 2 billion goal by the first quarter of 2022.

More global headlines
Singapore today reported a new daily record of 1,504 cases, according to the Straits Times. The country recently paused its easing of restrictions after COVID-19 cases started rising again.

In Australia, Victoria state, which is battling an outbreak centered in Melbourne, reported a single-day high of 766 cases, according to Reuters. The city recently experienced 3 days of anti-lockdown protests, some of which turned violent.

Virus activity is spiking again in Syria, with 235 cases reported over the past day, the country’s highest of the pandemic, according to Reuters. The uptick marks its third surge, which officials say was triggered by an increase in visitors over the summer and the presence of the Delta (B1617.2) variant.

The global total today climbed to 232,522,770 million cases, along with 4,748,124 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins online dashboard.

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