Vanuatu, Partners United in Fight Against COVID-19

COVAX aims to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines and guarantee access to all countries. Photo illustration by STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

No nation can act alone in the face of a pandemic.

This was stressed through a joint statement on COVAX issued by Prime Minister Bob Loughman, together with the High Commissioners of Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom and Ambassadors of France and Japan yesterday evening.

“COVID-19 has disrupted lives, health systems, and economies around the world,” they relayed.

“As the virus continues to spread, and the economic impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold, vaccines offer hope to return to more normal travel, tourism and trade.

“The emergence of new, more easily spread COVID-19 variants makes vaccines more important than ever. They will help protect the most vulnerable and slow down the virus and its ability to mutate. Without vaccines, the region’s health and economic security will be compromised.

“As a crucial tool in stopping the pandemic, vaccines have become one of the world’s most precious commodities. Vaccine manufacturers are struggling to keep up with demand as governments around the world seek to obtain COVID-19 vaccines as quickly as possible.”

This is why Vanuatu, Australia, France, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom have been working together to secure vaccines for Vanuatu through the COVAX Facility.

The statement notes the COVAX Facility, a global vaccine-sharing initiative, aims to deliver safe and effective vaccines around the world, to ensure no country is left behind.

“COVAX pools donor funding to invest in the production of the largest and most varied portfolio of COVID-19 vaccines available,” the statement continued.

“Co-led by Gavi (the International Vaccine Alliance), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the initiative works in partnership with UNICEF as well as the World Bank, civil society organisations, vaccine manufacturers and others to deliver safe and effective vaccines to all corners of the globe.

“Under the COVAX Facility, Vanuatu and other Pacific island countries have access to WHO-approved vaccines. More than 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses will be made available to the Pacific through the COVAX Facility in the first half of this year. More will follow later in the year.

“Even though vaccines against COVID-19 have been developed in record time, the WHO approval process ensures that safety procedures and standards have been maintained. There are also mechanisms in place to support people in the extremely rare instances of serious reactions to vaccines. Under COVAX, Vanuatu will be covered by a no-fault compensation scheme, covering all vaccines procured by the scheme, to protect citizens and countries.

“While all vaccines and medicines carry a risk of side effects, the risk of severe disease and death from COVID-19 are many times higher than the risks of serious reactions to the vaccine.”

The Vanuatu Government is engaging with COVAX, as a provider of WHO-approved vaccines, to ensure the safety of the population and eliminate potential risks.

“The Governments of Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Japan and France have provided financial support to this initiative because we believe that by working together, we can fast-track access to the safest, most effective vaccines approved by WHO, to end this global crisis,” the statement relayed.

“The UK was one of the first countries to back COVAX with Vt81.3 billion and has consistently pushed the international community to step up and support it.

“Australia has provided Vt6.7 billion to the COVAX Facility and has committed over Vt52 billion to support vaccine initiatives in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. In Vanuatu, this includes support for logistics, nursing staff, equipment and storage facilities.

“New Zealand has provided Vt1.4 billion to the COVAX Facility, on top of a Vt5.2 billion commitment to support Pacific vaccine access. The New Zealand Government has recently agreed to provide Vt 160 million specifically to help fund the Vanuatu vaccine rollout programme.

“Japan has announced a financial contribution of Vt21.5 billion to the COVAX Facility and has extended Emergency Grant Aid of approximately Vt4.4 billion to Southeast and Southwest Asian and Pacific Island countries to provide cold chain equipment including medical equipment such as cold-storage facilities and transportation.

“France initiated with Germany, the European Union and WHO the mobilisation leading to the creation of Act-Accelerator. France has directly contributed Vt13 billion to the COVAX facility and also participated through the European Union’s contribution to COVAX which reached 130 billion.”

“COVID has shown us that no nation can act alone in the face of a pandemic.

“We are all affected. Together we will respond and recover.”

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