The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday urged every country to quickly join its global shared vaccine programmeCOVAX Global Vaccines Facility so that people across the world can get equal access to COVID-19 vaccines.

COVAX Global Vaccines Facility is the vaccine pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator and is being co-led by WHO, Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

The ACT Accelerator is a ground-breaking global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.

WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Tuesday said that that the fastest way to end the coronavirus pandemic and to reopen economies is to start by protecting the highest risk populations everywhere, rather than the entire populations of just some countries.

He also said that in order to protect countries from the risk of ‘vaccine nationalism,’ WHO has been in extensive consultations to develop a new framework to guide fair and equitable access to diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, for COVID-19 across all countries.

“Once a successful vaccine has been identified WHO’s strategic advisory group will provide recommendations for their appropriate and fair use,” Ghebreyesus said.

“The COVAX Global Vaccines Facility is the critical mechanism for joint procurement and pooling risk across multiple vaccines, which is why today I sent a letter to every Member State encouraging them to join,” he added.

He specified that the allocation of vaccines would be rolled out in two phases.

In the first, doses would be allocated proportionally to all participating countries simultaneously, in a bid to reduce the overall global risk.

In the second phase, individual countries’ threat and vulnerability level will then come into play.

“Front line workers in health and social care settings are prioritized as they are essential to treat and protect the population and come in close contact with high-mortality risk groups,” Ghebreyesus said.

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