Japan to pledge $800 mil to int'l COVID-19 vaccine effort

Japan to pledge $800 mil to int'l COVID-19 vaccine effort

Canada, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg were among other countries to announce new donations, while Spanish Prime Minister Sanchez, who pledged 15 million doses and 50 million euros ($61 million), said: "Only by leading by example we will be effective in preaching solidarity".

"I would like to deliver hope in the form of vaccines to as many people as possible in the world equally, as early as possible", said Suga at the virtual Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment Summit, hosted by Japan and global vaccine alliance Gavi.

The move has been hailed as a significant and meaningful step toward equitable vaccine access.

The summit secured almost $2.4 billion from governments and the private sector.

The summit is meant to fill a US$1.7 billion funding gap, and it is hoped that countries and organisations will boost their pledges of money and vaccine doses, a Japanese government official told reporters yesterday.

"We have taken a big step toward "one world protected", said José Manuel Barroso, chairman of Gavi.

Japan's pledge, made during an online summit attended by representatives from dozens of countries, came on top of a previous offer of $200 million.

Corporations including Japanese trading company Toyota Tsusho also announced contributions at Wednesday's conference.

Suga added that Japan also plans to supply 30 million vaccine doses manufactured in the country, taking into account the spread of coronavirus variants and the delay in vaccine shipments.

"We must not allow a country's specific situation or economic power to determine its access to vaccines", Suga, who co-hosted the meeting, said in his opening remarks. He said this would happen "in the right time when we have the right conditions, as we now face the hard challenges of variants that are spreading and delays in vaccine supplies". "In the future, we would supply [the vaccines] to the world", he said. The programme managers are seeking about $2 billion more to reach a target of $8.3 billion for its effort to fund free vaccines for low- and middle-income countries around the world.

Under the long-term strategy, Japan will aim for the speedy development and rollout of new vaccines. Japan's lengthy approval process has been a major hurdle in vaccinating the population amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guterres said 10 countries had administered more than 75 percent of all COVID-19 vaccines, while in poor countries even health workers and people with underlying conditions can not access them.

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