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EU doubles contribution to global Covax vaccine initiative

Commission pledges additional €500 million, and Germany €900m, in latest funding round

The EU has pledged another €500 million to the Covax initiative—an international effort to provide equitable global access to Covid-19 vaccines—doubling its pledged contribution so far.

“With this new financial boost we want to make sure vaccines are soon delivered to low- and middle-income countries, because we will only be safe if the whole world is safe,” said European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, announcing the pledge alongside a meeting of the G7 nations on 19 February.

European countries and the EU combined have pledged more than €2.2 billion to the initiative overall, with Germany pledging €900m in the latest round, according to the Commission. The latest EU funding comes from a €300m grant and €200m in guarantees for a loan from the European Investment Bank.

Additional contributions made at the G7 meeting to the ACT Accelerator partnership on Covid-19 treatments and testing, of which Covax is the vaccine initiative, came to US$4.3bn (€3.5bn), according to the World Health Organization. But it said the total now pledged to the ACT Accelerator of US$10.3bn left a funding gap of US$22.9bn for 2021.

“Further commitments are needed to fully fund the work of the ACT Accelerator and enable the delivery of more than two billion doses of vaccine,” the WHO said. “This work will also support the urgent need for rapid R&D, product evaluation, and regulatory pathways for new and modified tests, treatments and vaccines to meet the needs of global response programmes and the threat of new and emerging variants.”