The World Bank says it will have committed 2 billion Dollars in financing for COVID-19 vaccines in about forty developing countries by the end of April.
, World Bank Managing Director of Operations Axel van Trotsenburg told a forum on Friday that the 2 billion Dollars is part of a pool of some 12 billion that the financial organization has made available overall for vaccine development, distribution and production in low-and middle-income countries.
World Bank President David Malpass said in separate remarks to the lender’s development committee that the bank expects this to expand to 4 billion Dollars worth of commitments in fifty countries by mid-year.
But public health officials at the same forum warned that a race between the coronavirus and the vaccines meant to stop it could be lost if the pace of vaccinations in the developing world did not pick up.
World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that existing vaccines could be rendered ineffective if the virus continues to spread and mutate.
“Even those countries who have high coverage of vaccines will not be secure because the new variants that may not be stopped by the vaccines we have, will invade the countries that may have even 100% coverage in a few months,” he said.
Dr. Tedros called for more political will to boost production of COVID-19 vaccines and share supplies, including through stalled intellectual property waiver on vaccines through the World Trade Organization.
The WTO’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property, or TRIPS waiver was the “elephant in the room” holding back vaccine production, Dr. Tedros said, adding that it was meant for emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic.