The Swiss Confederation joins the COVAX initiative for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines

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Switzerland commits to promoting a global solution for the equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. The COVAX initiative led by GAVI, CEPI and the World Health Organisation (WHO) aims at providing some two billion doses of vaccines. On 18 September 2020, Switzerland confirmed its participation in the COVAX initiative to secure vaccines for twenty per cent of its population.

While no country has approved a Covid-19 vaccine to date, intense research and development efforts are underway. In order to secure a fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across the globe, nations across the world have formed the COVAX initiative (COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility) and created a pooled procurement mechanism.

The goal is to procure two billion doses of vaccines from a range of manufacturers by the end of 2021. Currently, nine vaccine candidates are part of the COVAX initiative, with a further nine being evaluated for inclusion. COVAX aspires to create the largest and most diverse COVID-19 vaccine portfolio in the world.

Amid the fight against Covid-19, COVAX is the first procurement programme for Covid-19 vaccines that is open to all countries.

The transnational vaccine initiative was launched in June 2020. COVAX also allows 92 low-income countries access to vaccines funded by development assistance; Switzerland contributes 20 million Swiss francs. In addition, so-called self-financing countries - that is, higher-income countries such as Switzerland - may contribute additional funds to secure Covid-19 vaccines for their own populations.

COVAX is co-led by the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Switzerland has been among the initiative’s supporters from the beginning and, together with Singapore, has led a group of likeminded countries to supervise the development of the COVAX Facility from the perspective of self-financing countries.

National vaccine procurement

The Federal Council has committed a total of 300 million Swiss francs for the procurement of a vaccine. The Confederation evaluates various vaccine candidates to secure swift and secure access to a vaccine for the Swiss population. In a first step, a contract was signed with Moderna Therapeutics for the purchase of 4.5 million doses of vaccine. Concurrently, the Swiss Confederation is in conversation with other vaccine manufacturers. Joining the COVAX initiative is a complementary measure to these procurement efforts.