July 30, 2020 / 4:08 PM / 14 days ago

WHO urges countries to support 'COVAX' vaccine scheme

FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured outside a building of the World Health Organization (WHO) during an executive board meeting on update on the coronavirus outbreak, in Geneva, Switzerland, February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization’s chief scientist said on Thursday that any country that supports the COVAX financing initiative has a better chance of getting a successful COVID-19 vaccine.

Soumya Swaminathan told a news briefing in Geneva that the more countries that joined COVAX, a scheme designed to guarantee fast and equitable access globally to COVID-19 vaccines, the greater its chances of success.

More than 75 countries have expressed an interest in joining COVAX, which is co-led by the GAVI vaccines alliance, the WHO and the CEPI Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. Its aim is to deliver 2 billion doses of effective, approved COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021.

Some global health agencies are concerned about wealthier countries going it alone in the race for a coronavirus vaccine, striking deals with drugmakers to secure millions of doses of promising candidates for their own citizens.

Reporting by Michael Shields, Kate Kelland and Josephine Mason; Editing by Alex Richardson

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