Vaccine group Gavi secures $4.8 billion in funding pledges for COVAX

A member of the National Guard looks on as a batch of AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines, delivered under the COVAX scheme, is unloaded from a KLM Boeing 787 at Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City, Mexico May 27, 2021. REUTERS/Henny Romero/File Photo

GENEVA, April 8 (Reuters) - The global vaccine alliance Gavi has secured $4.8 billion in funding pledges for the vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX, an official said on Friday, falling just shy of its target.

"It is really putting us in a very comfortable position," Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao, managing director for resource mobilization at Gavi, told a virtual media briefing.

The group had previously said it needed an additional $5.2 billion to continue delivering COVID-19 vaccines at scale as part of its global programme that delivers shots to poorer countries. read more

Saraka-Yao said $2.1 billion of the total had come from innovative finance instruments, $1.7 billion from sovereign pledges from individual countries, and $1 billion from multilateral development banks.

COVAX has so far delivered 1.42 billion doses to 145 countries. Scaling up deliveries through COVAX is seen as critical to meeting a World Health Organization target to vaccinate 70% of the population in poorer nations by mid-2022.

Gavi CEO Seth Berkley said the programme had enough vaccines and the main challenge was to help countries increase their storage and distribution capacity. "That's something we're working on hard now. And that's where this critical infusion of capital will make a big difference," he said.

Reuters reported in February that COVAX was struggling to place more than 300 million doses.

Germany's development minister Svenja Schulze told Friday's briefing the country would contribute 1.1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) this year to the so-called Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), which includes vaccines as well as tests and treatments.

"This means Germany will once again contribute its fair share to ACT A showing our commitment to advancing global solutions to global challenges," Schulze said.

($1 = 0.9221 euros)

Reporting by Mrinalika Roy and Emma Farge; Editing by David Holmes

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