Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

WHO Releases Plans for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution as U.S., China and Russia Opt Out

Health + Wellness
WHO Releases Plans for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution as U.S., China and Russia Opt Out
Headquarters of the World Health Organization in Geneva amid the COVID-19 outbreak on Aug. 17, 2020. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that 64 high-income nations have joined an effort to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine fairly, prioritizing the most vulnerable citizens, as Science reported. The program is called the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax, and it is a joint effort led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.


The 64 high-income countries bring the total number of participating countries up to 156, but their participation is crucial to financing the 2 billion doses that the WHO hopes to purchase and distribute before the end of 2021, according to STAT News.

The 156 economies participating in Covax make up 64 percent of the global population.

"COVAX is now in business: governments from every continent have chosen to work together, not only to secure vaccines for their own populations, but also to help ensure that vaccines are available to the most vulnerable everywhere," said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, in a WHO statement. "With the commitments we're announcing today for the COVAX Facility, as well as the historic partnership we are forging with industry, we now stand a far better chance of ending the acute phase of this pandemic once safe, effective vaccines become available."

The United States, Russia and China have not agreed to join Covax. The Trump administration plans to withdraw from the WHO by next July so it refuses to participate in a WHO-led campaign, as STAT News reported. China has not said if it will participate or not, according to The Washington Post.

"COVID-19 is an unprecedented global crisis that demands an unprecedented global response," said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement. "Vaccine nationalism will only perpetuate the disease and prolong the global recovery. Working together through the COVAX Facility is not charity, it's in every country's own best interests to control the pandemic and accelerate the global economic recovery."

At a briefing on Monday, Ghebreyesus denounced vaccine nationalism again, according to The Washington Post. "The race for vaccines is a collaboration, not a contest," he said to a gathering of reporters. "This is not charity. It's in every country's best interest. We sink or swim together."

Once a vaccine candidate reaches all of its endpoints for safety and efficacy, the WHO's plan will be implemented in two phases under a "fair allocation mechanism." The first phase has two discrete parts. After enough doses of a successful candidate are produced, each participating country will receive enough doses for 3 percent of their population. That first batch would go to health care and social care workers on the frontlines of the pandemic. After that first batch is distributed, a second set of doses will be distributed equally so 20 percent of the population can be inoculated. The second set of doses will be for vulnerable populations like the elderly and people with complicating health conditions, according to Science.

The second phase will distribute vaccine doses by need rather than by equal distribution. Countries that take part in Covax will receive vaccines based on how desperately they are needed. To determine urgency, Covax will look at the transmission rate, whether other diseases like flu are spreading rapidly, and if a healthcare system is seeing its hospitals and intensive care units overwhelmed, as Science reported.

"Providing each country with enough doses to start protecting the health system and those at higher risk of dying is the best approach to maximize the impact of the small quantities of vaccines," said Mariângela Batista Galvão Simão, the WHO's assistant director general for access to medicines and health products, as The Washington Post reported.

While the first phase of the plan may not address the most dire and urgent situations, the equal distribution of the vaccine in proportion to population is meant to encourage more countries to participate in Covax, according to The Washington Post.

"It's a very pragmatic and expedient way of trying to put forward a simple plan and will not ignite a food fight among different member states in the first phase," said J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as The Washington Post reported.

A new study has revealed that Earth's biggest mass extinction was triggered by volcanic activity that led to ocean acidification. Illustration by Dawid Adam Iurino (PaleoFactory, Sapienza University of Rome) for Jurikova et al (2020)

The excess carbon dioxide emitted by human activity since the start of the industrial revolution has already raised the Earth's temperature by more than one degree Celsius, increased the risk of extreme hurricanes and wildfires and killed off more than half of the corals in the Great Barrier Reef. But geologic history shows that the impacts of greenhouse gases could be much worse.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Coronavirus-sniffing dogs Miina and Kössi (R) are seen in Vantaa, Finland on September 2, 2020. Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva / AFP/ Getty Images

By Teri Schultz

Europe is in a panic over the second wave of COVID-19, with infection rates sky-rocketing and GDP plummeting. Belgium has just announced it will no longer test asymptomatic people, even if they've been in contact with someone who has the disease, because the backlog in processing is overwhelming. Other European countries are also struggling to keep up testing and tracing.

Meanwhile in a small cabin in Helsinki airport, for his preferred payment of a morsel of cat food, rescue dog Kossi needs just a few seconds to tell whether someone has coronavirus.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Rashtrapati Bhavan engulfed in smog, at Rajpath, on Oct. 12, 2020 in New Delhi, India. Biplov Bhuyan / Hindustan Times via Getty Images

An annual comprehensive report on air pollution showed that it was responsible for 6.67 million deaths worldwide, including the premature death of 500,000 babies, with the worst health outcomes occurring in the developing world, according to the State of Global Air, which was released Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
New research finds that dust in buildings with older furniture is more likely to contain a suite of compounds that impact our health. Aleksandr Zubkov / Getty Images

By Hannah Seo

If you've been considering throwing out that old couch, now might be a good time. Dust in buildings with older furniture is more likely to contain a suite of compounds that impact our health, according to new research.

Read More Show Less

Poor eating habits, lack of exercise, genetics, and a bunch of other things are known to be behind excessive weight gain. But, did you know that how much sleep you get each night can also determine how much weight you gain or lose?

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch