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European Investment Bank President Werner Hoyer today backed a new funding call from COVAX, the global initiative to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines around the world.

Speaking at the COVAX AMC Investment Opportunity event alongside leaders from the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, COVAX and ministers from Canada and Indonesia, President Hoyer said that the EIB would make an extra €300 million available to enable African countries to access additional doses through COVAX.

“I am also pleased to confirm the EIB’s support for an additional €300 million of financing to accelerate local vaccine deployment in countries most exposed to the pandemic through innovative cost-sharing and generate a positive impact where budget constraints might otherwise hinder effective public sector health response,” said Hoyer.

The new €300 million commitment from the EIB builds on the Bank’s support for €1 billion of vaccine purchases over the last year. It targets the acute needs of sub-Saharan Africa, where the EIB is working with a network of African partners, including the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team. The innovative funding will ensure that African countries can quickly purchase more vaccines and double the percentage of their populations immunised against COVID-19 from 30% to 60%.

As part of Team Europe, the EIB has been a staunch supporter of COVAX, providing €400 million in December 2020, before any vaccine for COVID-19 had even been approved by the World Health Organisation or the European Medicines Agency.

The EIB provided an additional€200 million for COVAX in November 2021. Both engagements were part of Team Europe’s overall support for COVAX and backed by the European Union budget.

Including contributions from the European Commission, EU countries and the EIB, Team Europe has committed more than €3 billion to making COVID-19 vaccines more accessible around the world through COVAX.

COVAX is leading the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history. Rapidly put together at the start of the pandemic, it has delivered COVID-19 vaccines to 144 countries to date. Earlier this week, a shipment of 1.1 million COVID-19 vaccines to Rwanda included the billionth dose supplied through COVAX.

But much more needs to be done as almost half the global population has yet to receive a single vaccine dose. COVAX and UNICEF called for at least $5.2 billion of new funding over the next three months to create a 600 million dose stock that will enable countries with limited access to vaccines fight the spread of the virus and save lives.

Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation, praised COVAX as an example of “the power of multilateral action.”

“Global coordination and funding is the only way to defeat the virus,” he said. “In 2022, we can end the acute face of the pandemic, or prolong it.” World leaders have a choice, he said, warning that “persistent inequity has led to variants like Omicron”.

The COVAX AMC Investment Opportunity event was organised by GAVI, the global public-private access to vaccines alliance, which together with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization, directs COVAX.