By G9ija
About 172 countries have been engaging with the “largest and most diverse COVID-19 vaccine portfolio” coordinated by the World Health Organisation (WHO), its chief said on Monday.
“At present, there are nine vaccines that are part of this dynamic portfolio,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus at a virtual news briefing, referring to the COVAX Global Vaccines Facility.

He added that nine other vaccines were under evaluation for the longer term.

According to him, COVAX is a mechanism for joint procurement and pooling risk across multiple vaccines so that whatever vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, all countries within the facility will be able to access them.

He said that global competition for vaccine doses could lead to prices spiking exponentially in comparison to COVAX.

The COVAX allocation framework aims at ensuring that low, middle and high-income countries all receive the vaccine in a timely way as soon as there is supply of a safe and effective vaccine, he said.

According to the WHO chief, it is important to provide the vaccine to those at highest risk, including health workers, people over 65 years and those at higher risk of dying from COVID-19 due to certain diseases they already have.

“A number of vaccines are now in the final stage of clinical trials, and we all hope we will have multiple successful candidates that are both safe and effective,” he said.

He added that the goal of COVAX would be to deliver at least two billion doses of vaccines by the end of 2021.