COVAX is the vaccines pillar of ACT-A [Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator], the international initiative run by the World Health Organization aimed at coordinating a global response to COVID-19 which is fair and mutually supportive.
Fair, because it would be intolerable for some people to have access to resources for tackling the pandemic, such as tests, vaccines and treatments, and others not to.
Mutually supportive, because the virus knows no borders and it is in everyone’s interest for the whole planet to be protected.
France has played a decisive role in coordinating States and other actors and promoting fair access to everything countries need in order to tackle the health crisis. While considerable resources have already been mobilized, access to solutions to fight the virus still remains too unequal in the world, particularly as far as the vaccine is concerned.
The COVAX mechanism therefore makes an essential contribution to the global vaccination rollout, for the most vulnerable in particular.
France has played a crucial role in ensuring fairer access to the vaccine.
While the international community had initially mobilized considerable resources to finance the purchase and distribution of doses, the limits of global vaccine production capacity and its concentration in certain territories severely delayed delivery times and slowed down the vaccination rollout worldwide. Developing countries, with no production capacities on their territories, were the first victims of the bottleneck. Yet vaccination is about speed, because as long as the circulation of the virus is not slowed down, the chances of new variants emerging increase.
For this reason, at a video conference of the G7 members on 19 February 2021, President Macron announced that France would be the first country in the world to supplement its financial contributions to COVAX with donations of doses from its own vaccine purchases. Donations in kind currently account for more than half of the vaccines deployed in the COVAX framework.
So thanks to this arrangement, initiated by France, vaccinations have speeded up in the most vulnerable countries.
President Emmanuel Macron has pledged that France will share 120 million vaccine doses for developing countries by mid-2022.
To date, France has donated more than 75 million doses, 47.4 million of which have already been delivered on the ground.
In parallel with these efforts to share our doses, the President wanted France to be in the vanguard when it comes to supporting the development of vaccine production capacity worldwide, and in particular on the African continent. This approach is already materializing, because on 21 June 2021 the Director-General of WHO, the South African President and the French President announced the creation in South Africa of a technological hub in partnership with the Biovac and Afrigen laboratories and half-financed by France, to enable training in the production of messenger RNA vaccines for African experts who will be able to work throughout the continent. The centre started work in September 2021.
France intends to support similar projects in several African countries, particularly Senegal and Rwanda, by investing both in factories and in employee training, so that the continent where only 1% of the world’s doses are currently made can produce the vaccines its inhabitants need.
It also seems essential that everything should be done to ensure that, in the event of a health crisis, intellectual property does not hinder the ability to mobilize every existing factory to produce vaccines or treatments. France has therefore forged an unprecedented €20-million partnership with the Medicines Patent Pool, an organization which has proven it can increase the production of treatments against HIV/AIDS in Africa. Its role will be to encourage technology transfers and the voluntary sharing of patents.
Vaccines and more.
ACT-A is organized around four priority objectives: to make vaccines a global public good, develop diagnostic capabilities, design treatments for the virus, and strengthen health systems in the most vulnerable countries