2.2 billion euro for vaccines, diagnostics and medicines
The pandemic can only be overcome if it is brought under control all over the world. Nobody is safe until everybody is safe. Germany thus opted early on to focus on finding joint responses to the pandemic in a spirit of solidarity. The key is to ensure affordable global access to tools for detecting infections, medication for treating the disease, and above all vaccines for preventing it. Furthermore, the aim is to strengthen healthcare systems as a whole. The Access to COVID‑19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator) was initiated for this purpose last year by a G20 decision. It is coordinated by the WHO. Germany is a founding member.
To date, Germany has provided 2.2 billion euro for the ACT-Accelerator. Most of this sum goes to the vaccine platform COVAX, while some is being used for diagnostic tools and medication to treat COVID‑19. The funding will enable COVAX to procure vaccines, distribute the doses and support progress in vaccine research looking at virus mutations.
To curb the spread of COVID‑19, vaccines are key
Vaccines are key in the fight against COVID‑19. The COVAX platform led by the GAVI Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the research alliance CEPI is responsible for procuring and equitably distributing vaccines. To achieve this, countries throughout the world have come together to acquire and fairly distribute vaccines with the aim of ensuring that 20% of the world population, and as much as 30% in developing countries, can be supplied with vaccines by the end of 2021. The aim is also to prioritise the vaccination of nurses, doctors and risk groups in Africa, and not only the populations of industrialised nations.
A total of 190 states have now joined COVAX.
Germany is donating 30 million vaccine doses from its own stocks
The first vaccine doses were delivered in late February. By early August, a total of more than 190 million doses of the AstraZeneca and BioNTech vaccines had already been sent to 138 states. Large volumes of the doses were produced in India.
However, the progression of the pandemic in India has been causing supply problems for some time. Several countries have therefore offered to donate not only money but also vaccines from their own stocks. Germany will provide at least 30 million doses by the end of the year, approximately 80% of them via the vaccine initiative COVAX and 20% via bilateral channels, primarily to developing countries. The first batch of 1.3 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine has already been delivered to COVAX and is being distributed to Afghanistan, Ethiopia, the Sudan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The recipient states were selected by COVAX. They are countries which need the vaccines particularly urgently and are in a position to use them immediately in their vaccination campaigns. The German Government is also providing a smaller amount of doses via bilateral channels. These doses will go to countries including Ukraine, Namibia and Western Balkan states.
All in all, the EU is donating at least 200 million doses and the United States has donated around 110 million to date, while the G7 will provide a total of 870 million doses by the end of 2022. The majority of these donations are to be given to COVAX, which knows conditions in the recipient countries best and can therefore distribute the vaccines fairly around the world. In future, COVAX will supply not only the AstraZeneca and BioNTech vaccines but others including those produced by Johnson & Johnson and Moderna. It has also concluded a preliminary contract for 350 million doses of the Novavax vaccine. Novavax intends to apply for a licence in the autumn
Multilateral solutions instead of vaccine nationalism
Germany and the EU are committed to finding a multinational solution to the pandemic. The EU and other EU member states are making a key contribution towards COVAX and the ACT Accelerator and sharing their technical expertise. In addition to this, Germany is working in all international bodies to promote fair, transparent and affordable access to COVID‑19 vaccines, medicines and diagnostics around the globe. Ensuring that this access is not attached to political conditions is a joint approach which stands in contrast to the bilateral pledges and vaccine nationalism of some states. However, donations and financial support alone are not enough. Germany and the EU are therefore committed to promoting the production of vaccines in Africa in particular. Germany wants to see regional healthcare provided on a durable basis and will make available funding for the expansion of vaccine production, for example in South Africa and Senegal.
The COVAX Manufacturing Taskforce was established in order to increase the supply and production of vaccines. The aim is to increase the number of vaccine doses which can be produced at short notice, ensuring that COVAX has priority. The 92 poorest countries are the particular focus of attention. In addition, vaccine production in the global South is to be expanded. Germany and South Africa are the co-chairs.
Furthermore, the priority in future will remain not only to distribute vaccines but also medicines and testing materials. Healthcare systems weakened by COVID‑19 must be strengthened for the future.
Germany is engaged – worldwide
Germany is not only helping when it comes to vaccines. It also receives requests for ventilators, masks and medical equipment from all over the world. Germany has provided support to around 100 countries and has launched three major aid packages. Among other things, 1400 ventilators have been donated. At present, around 24 million KN95 masks and 197 million surgical masks are being supplied as relief goods. Furthermore, Germany has made available 450 million euro for humanitarian assistance in the context of COVID‑19 in order to help people in humanitarian emergencies.
With a view to learning from the pandemic and making use of the experience we have gained in future, Germany is also calling for the WHO to be strengthened. A special WHO session in November is to discuss possible measures to this end, including the idea of an international pandemic treaty.