Marsudi discusses vaccine logistics, stresses on equity at COVAX meet

Marsudi discusses vaccine logistics, stresses on equity at COVAX meet

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi. (ANTARA/HO-kemlu.go.id)

We need an immediate step to ensure equal access to vaccines now that no single country is fully free from COVID-19, while other countries are still exposed to it.
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi discussed several strategic issues, including the supply and distribution of vaccines, with her foreign counterparts at the 4th virtual meeting of the COVAX Advanced Market Commitment (AMC) Engagement Group.

Marsudi co-chaired the COVAX AMC Engagement Group meeting along with Ethiopian Health Minister Lia Tadesse and Canadian Minister of International Development, Karina Gould, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry said in a written statement released on Tuesday.

The meeting discussed issues related to support for the distribution of vaccines and efforts to build public confidence in vaccines, as well as a strategy for COVAX facility for 2022.

"In the discussion (on the issues), it appears that despite the challenges related to the spread of the virus and the supply of vaccines, the global commitment has offered large expectation of joint efforts to overcome the pandemic," the ministry said.

Marsudi said efforts to boost vaccine production capacity, including abolishing of vaccine patents, is crucial to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Therefore, she said she hoped the supply of vaccines under the COVAX facility would improve at the end of this year, particularly after several vaccine producers commit to increasing supplies and vaccines receive emergency-use authorization from the World Health Organization (WHO).

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So far, the COVAX facility has dispatched 67.3 million vaccine doses to 124 countries, or 86 percent of the total number of countries scheduled to receive the first batch of vaccines by June, 2021.

Regarding the distribution of vaccines, Marsudi stressed that amid the heightened COVID-19 pandemic, unequal distribution of vaccines at the global level is still prevalent, with only 0.3 percent of the available vaccine stocks dispatched to low-income countries.

"We need an immediate step to ensure equal access to vaccines now that no single country is fully free from COVID-19, while other countries are still exposed to it," she said.

Under the vaccine cost-sharing option under COVAX, low income and middle income countries opting for AMC can buy additional doses of vaccines other than the free vaccine allocations pledged for 20 percent of their populations.

The COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, abbreviated as COVAX, is a global initiative aimed at ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization.

Indonesia has so far received 6,410,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and the figure is expected to increase, the government has said.

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