Project Syndicate (USA): the fastest way out of the pandemic

Geneva — to avoid unnecessary delays, the government needs to seize this moment, while the researchers are working to create the right formula to pave the way for quick production and wide, the fair use of [the vaccine covid-19].

This is the principle on which is based the Foundation of the global access to vaccines covid-19 (COVAX). Innovative platform created by GAVI, the Global Alliance for vaccines and immunization, world health organization and the Coalition for innovation in the field of preparedness for epidemics, aims to spread to the end of 2021 at least two billion doses of vaccine covid-19.

A lot of doses, which will be evenly distributed among the participating countries, regardless of ability to pay — could cover about 20% of the population of the participating countries. Thus, it would be enough to protect people with high risk and vulnerable groups and health workers on the front edge. (Additional dose as would be accumulated to be able to cope with any next outbreak before it gets out of control.)

Currently in preclinical or clinical development are more than 160 vaccine candidates. There is no way to know which of them will pass clinical trials and be licensed (frequency of unsuccessful vaccines in the early stages of development high). But we can guarantee that by the time when this happens, you will have created an effective framework for production and deployment in the field. To this end, governments need to invest in COVAX as soon as possible.

The problem is that governments may feel compelled to abandon cooperation in favor of direct negotiations with vaccine manufacturers to obtain the required doses. Yes, governments have a responsibility first and foremost to protect its citizens. But this national approach carries serious risks, starting with the fact that the government could support the wrong vaccine.

Even if the government will provide its population with enough doses of an effective vaccine, some groups — such as people with weakened immune systems who may not be able to complete the vaccination will be unprotected if other countries will not be able to get enough vaccines. And this leaves aside the moral imperative to ensure that people were not cut off from vital medication.

During the swine flu pandemic in 2009, several countries controlled the vaccine market, with the result that the vast majority of the world’s population was left without vaccines until then, until the outbreak is not over. During the current crisis, we need to avoid this scenario at all costs, not least because covid-19 has a much higher morbidity and mortality.

Working with global public health agencies using COVAX, the government can ensure that everyone has equal access to vaccines covid-19. For countries that have concluded bilateral agreements with the manufacturers, COVAX is a insurance policy if they do not bet on those candidates. For countries that have not concluded any deals, the vast majority of countries in the world — COVAX is the only way to avoid that is not to be pushed into the background.

COVAX provides a wide distribution of benefits and risks from the development of vaccines. Possessing the world’s largest portfolio of candidates for vaccines, it gives participating governments the best chance to obtain safe and effective vaccine as soon as it becomes available, and ensures that this moment will come much earlier.

When pharmaceutical companies take all the financial risks, they will invest in increased production only after clinical trials of their vaccine, and it will be approved. This approach may be business acumen, but it does not make sense in the context of a rapidly evolving global pandemic.

COVAX uses a fundamentally different approach. Besides using push – financing of direct investments in research, development and production — it uses pull – funding in the form of commitments to advance procurement for a large number of doses for a license. This provides a powerful incentive for the private sector to support the urgent development of vaccines.

In addition, COVAX brings together state resources for the empowerment of the most promising candidates even before completion of clinical trials. Thus, when it comes to the approval of the vaccine for use ready a greater number of doses. Who is already working with a number of stakeholders, including member States and civil society organizations on the development and introduction of a mechanism of fair and equitable distribution of vaccine doses as soon as they become available.

COVAX will support only those candidates for vaccines developed in accordance with the highest safety standards. Working with experts worldwide to develop profiles of target products, sharing advanced models for testing, conducting multi-country clinical trials, and promoting harmonization of regulations, COVAX will set a new standard for fast, safe and effective development and delivery of vaccines.

We can’t afford to have our economy continued to follow their current path. With the reduction in the world GDP, the international monetary Fund and the world Bank predicts GDP to 5% in 2020 — poverty and hunger increase dramatically. In conditions when the global economy daily loses more than $ 10 billion, the reduction of the pandemic even a few days more than compensate for the costs of COVAX. Global cooperation — where risks and rewards are shared equally — has never been a better business proposition.