Pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson pledged at the Global Health Summit in Rome to provide 1.3 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines on a non-profit basis to low and middle income countries in 2021.
The Global Health Summit, which was organised on Friday by Italy in its role as president of the G20 in partnership with the European Commission, emphasised the urgent need to scale up efforts, including through synergies between the public and private sectors, to enhance timely and equitable access to effective and affordable Covid-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.
Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson pledged the vaccines will be provided to low-income countries at production cost and middle income countries at low cost. This includes one billion doses from Pfizer, 200 million from Johnson & Johnson and 100 million from Moderna. Most of these doses will be delivered through the WHO-backed COVAX facility.
The European Union will also donate 100 million doses to low and middle income countries by the end of the year, said European Commision President Ursula Von der Leyen, who co-hosted the summit with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
“The pandemic has shown the importance of international cooperation to address the current and any future health crisis. In more general terms, we must look across borders and across disciplines if we are to meet the challenges of our times,” Italian ambassador Vincenzo de Luca said.
“These include not only the pandemic but also global inequalities and climate change,” he said, adding this was the spirit of the Rome Declaration adopted at the Global Health Summit.
The Rome Declaration sets out a series of mutual reinforcing principles and commitments that will guarantee improved preparedness, a coordinated response, resilience to and recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic and better preparation for future health emergencies.
Within the framework of the Global Health Summit, all participants announced additional pledges aimed at guaranteeing a forceful and coordinated response to the pandemic.
“So long as the virus continues to circulate freely worldwide, it can mutate and undermine even the most successful vaccination campaign. The free flow of raw materials and vaccines across borders is essential,” De Luca said.
Europe has so far exported about 200 million doses of vaccines to 90 countries. Italy has pledged a new donation of 15 million doses of vaccines to low-income countries before the end of 2021.
At the Global Health Summit, Italy also announced a pledge of an additional 300 million euros for equitable distribution of vaccines, and a separate pledge of 200 million euros for initiatives to foster climate and health security in low-income countries.
The participants of the Global Health Summit committed to promote and make tangible progress towards the principles of the Rome Declaration by the G20 Summit in Rome in October.
In this regard, De Luca said, it will be essential to strengthen the role of multilateral institutions in global health and beyond, starting with the World Health Organization (WHO).
“We need to provide WHO with sustainable and predictable funding and enable it to become more effective. It is crucial to ensure that an effective early warning system is in place and that governments can quickly share their best practices to prevent, contain and manage a pandemic,” he said.
International scientific collaboration is one of the factors behind the rapid development of Covid-19 vaccines, and there is a need for better data sharing and greater knowledge transfers to enable widespread and equitable distribution of the fruits of innovation, De Luca said.
“Covid-19 vaccines are the product of complex supply chains, which span many countries, each of which is based on its own industrial capacity and expertise,” he said. “We must preserve cross-border trade and eliminate unjustified trade barriers and general export bans.”