DCR Health & Politics: White House announces $4 billion in funding for Covax, the global vaccine effort.☕☕☕

Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves the White House and a covid-19 vaccine effort.

During a Group of Seven meeting of leaders of the world’s largest economies on Friday, President Biden will announce an initial $2 billion in funding for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to be used by the Covax Facility, senior administration officials said in a briefing. The United States will release an additional $2 billion over two years once other donors have made good on their pledges and will use this week’s G-7 summit to rally other countries to do more.

The White House is throwing its support behind a global push to distribute coronavirus vaccines equitably, pledging $4 billion to a multilateral effort the Trump administration spurned. The money, which was appropriated by a bipartisan congressional vote last year, will give a much needed boost to a program jointly led by Gavi, the World Health Organization and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.Thomas Bollyky, director of the global health program at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that the money would be significant for Covax, which has struggled to raise enough funding since it was announced last year.“Certainly earlier funds would have been helpful to Covax,” said Bollyky. “But there’s not much point in going back to that point. The question is, what can we do now? And this is a signal at least that the U.S. intends to invest in and bolster Covax as a mechanism to meet the world’s vaccine needs.”

Covax aims to get coronavirus vaccines to low and middle income countries that have been cut out of a vaccine race that’s seen rich countries snap up the majority of doses, leaving everyone else to wait. More than 190 countries have agreed to participate, the Trump administration opted out, in part because of the former president’s feud with the WHO. But so far the initiative has not begun deliveries, and it has struggled not just with funding but also competition from wealthy nations who pursued bilateral deals.“These kinds of political commitments do matter and make a difference,” according to Sema Sgaier, an assistant professor of public health at Harvard and co-founder of nonprofit Surgo Ventures, adding that confirmed funding would allow Covax to pursue new deals.

Covax plans to start distributing vaccines in the first half of this year. On Thursday, Gavi announced a memorandum of understanding with Novavax for 1.1 billion doses of their vaccine, adding to earlier deals with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sanofi and Johnson and Johnson. U.N. Secretary General António Guterres slammed the distribution of vaccines as “wildly uneven and unfair” at a Security Council meeting Wednesday, saying that 10 countries accounted for 75 percent of all vaccinations to date.

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