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Sweden to make major investment in global access to vaccines in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic
Today the Government is presenting an extensive investment in global health totalling more than SEK 2.5 billion to increase access to COVID-19 vaccines, prevent and manage the risk of corruption and counter displacement effects on health systems in the world’s poorest countries.
More than a year has passed since WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Worldwide, over 130 million people have been infected and at least 2.8 million people have lost their lives. Meanwhile, 114 million people have lost their jobs, 120 million have been pushed into extreme poverty and for more than 168 million children schools have been closed for almost a full year. The fact that we now have safe and effective vaccines is a major success, but to be effective the vaccines must reach all countries, not just the richest. COVAX, the global vaccine initiative, has already reached more than 100 countries – with more than 60 countries receiving donor funded doses – but more resources are needed for these efforts to continue. Global access to vaccines is not just a question of solidarity – without vaccines, there is an increased risk of harmful mutations that threaten all countries including Sweden, economic recovery will be hampered and years of development risk being lost. The pandemic has also led to extensive displacement effects on health systems in the world’s poorest countries. That is why there is a need for continued investments in essential preventive measures such as routine vaccination and resilient health systems. Furthermore, there is an increased risk of corruption when there is such great global demand for vaccines.
The Government is responding to the challenges through a comprehensive global health initiative:
· Instructions to Sida will be made more explicit, with an emphasis on counteracting displacement effects and investing in resilient health systems.
· The Government intends to also contribute SEK 2.25 billion to COVAX, which together with previous contributions amounting to SEK 200 million will make Sweden the world’s largest donor to COVAX in terms of population size. The contribution is made via the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm), with payments over a 10-year period.
· At the same time, Sweden will also provide an additional SEK 250 million to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) to ensure access to essential vaccinations in low- and middle-income countries.
· The Government has decided to provide SEK 10 million to Transparency International to combat corruption and counterfeit vaccines during the vaccination phase. In addition, Sweden will take part in a global initiative to leverage new technologies to help ensure that vaccines actually reach their intended destination.
Sweden’s increased support to COVAX is presented tomorrow via a video message from Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in connection with the virtual launch of the COVAX AMC Investment Opportunity, together with heads of state from Colombia, El Salvador, Moldova, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Norway, New Zealand, Portugal, and Cabo Verde, hosted by the US.
“This initiative demonstrates the Government’s firm commitment to global health and access to COVID-19 vaccines in particular. This makes Sweden the world’s largest donor to COVAX relative to our population, and the fourth largest donor overall. We’re doing this to show solidarity, but also to contribute to our common goal to end the pandemic,” says Minister for International Development Cooperation Per Olsson Fridh.
Instructions to Sida will be made more explicit through a revision of the ‘Strategy for Sweden’s global development cooperation in sustainable social development 2018–2022’. The SEK 2.25 billion contribution to COVAX and the contribution to Gavi’s regular work with on routine vaccinations of SEK 250 million will be channelled via the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm) and paid over a 10-year period. Sweden already gives SEK 350 million annually in core support to Gavi. The contribution to COVAX goes to the Advance Market Commitment (AMC) mechanism for COVID-19 vaccines for 92 low- and lower-middle income countries, and is additional to the already disbursed contribution of SEK 200 million. On 3 February, COVAX presented plans to begin delivery of vaccine doses to a total of 145 countries in the first half of 2021, and the first doses were delivered to Ghana on 24 February. By April 8, over 100 countries had received deliveries from Covax. Sweden is part of the EU’s vaccine procurement programme, which pushed for global vaccine access from the start. Sweden is also a member of COVAX through the EU.