Australia urged to boost support for Covax

Burnet Institute

31 January, 2022

Burnet Institute Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC is among high-level advocates for vaccine equity urging Australia to spend more on Covax, the global vaccination mechanism, to support countries that are missing out on COVID-19 vaccines.

The End Covid for All (ECFA) initiative is concerned that Australia’s focus on donations to the Pacific and south-east Asia has come at the expense of support for Covax, which has received AUD $130 million in funding from Australia, but no vaccines.

Professor Crabb told The Guardian that Covax offers a tailored, end-to-end vaccine program to ensure that vaccines are delivered and find their way into people’s arms.

To date, Covax has distributed more than one billion doses to 144 countries from two-point-eight billion doses pledged after a slow start to distribution.

“Widespread vaccination is the central pillar of the plan to reduce the global Covid burden, which is essential to ending the Covid pandemic for us all, and Covax is our best shot at vaccinating the world,” Professor Crabb said.

Professor Crabb noted that, on average, a major new variant of Covid-19 has been detected every four months since the pandemic was declared by the World Health Organization.

“Alpha emerged in an – at the time – unvaccinated UK, Delta emerged in a largely unvaccinated India, and Omicron emerged in a largely unvaccinated South Africa,” he said.

“Another variant of concern will no doubt arise unless we ramp up global vaccination efforts.”

End Covid for All has written to the Australian government, calling for an additional AUD $250 million to be dedicated to Covax, arguing “the global vaccine effort is dangerously off-track, unfair and unjust”.

Roland Rajah, director of the International Economics Program at the Lowy Institute, told The Guardian that while Australia’s vaccine distribution has been generous by global standards, its focus on the Pacific and south-east Asia was geopolitically motivated and supports countries with reasonable rates of protection.

“The reality is when you think about bringing an end to the pandemic – about doing things in an efficient way – there needs to be global equity in vaccine access. Covax prioritises that,” Mr Rajah said.

“The biggest gap is in Africa, which is simply not keeping up in getting shots into people’s arms. And it is largely a supply issue, there needs to be more vaccines going to Africa.”

ECFA spokesperson Tim Costello told the Guardian nobody would be safe from coronavirus until everybody was.

“When the government says ‘I am protecting you, look how many people are vaccinated, soon we will have enough rapid antigen tests’, it is hollow,” Reverend Costello said.

“We in Australia cannot shut ourselves off and protect only ourselves.”

Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Brendan Crabb AC

Director and CEO; Co-Head Malaria Research Laboratory; Chair, Victorian Chapter of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI)




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