berkley_ SIPHIWE SIBEKOPOOLAFP via Getty Images_covid vaccine Siphiwe Sibeko/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

A Moment of Truth in the Pandemic

As the most ambitious pandemic-response initiative ever conceived, the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility is the best chance the world has to bring the pandemic to an end. But to succeed, COVAX requires broad international buy-in, based on the recognition that no one is safe until everyone is.

GENEVA – Now almost in its tenth month, the COVID-19 pandemic is still wreaking havoc on economies and lives around the world. But while the end of the crisis seems as far away as ever, the fact is that we are approaching a potential turning point. World leaders now have an opportunity to seal the deal on a global framework that puts international cooperation above vaccine nationalism in stopping the pandemic.

The moment of truth will be at midnight on September 18. That is the deadline for countries to join the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX), an initiative launched by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations. COVAX represents the best chance we have to provide people in all countries with rapid, fair, and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they become available. The initiative has already achieved an extraordinary scale, with more than 170 countries (representing 70% of the global population) already signaling their intent to join. At a time when most countries are undergoing unprecedented crises, governments are eager for solutions that will benefit everyone.

Nothing like COVAX has ever been attempted, and the short timeframe in which it has been assembled makes it all the more remarkable. If successful, this will be the first time that the international community has come together to ensure equitable and simultaneous access to new lifesaving pandemic interventions for rich and poor alike.

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