WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed the Government of Sweden’s announcement today to share 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with the COVAX Facility to provide life-saving vaccines to people at risk from COVID-19 in low income countries.
“Sweden’s announcement that it will share 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines with COVAX is a superb gesture that must be replicated urgently, and repeatedly, by governments around the world to accelerate the equitable rollout of vaccines globally,” said Dr Tedros, who met today with Sweden’s Minister for Development Cooperation, Mr Per Olsson Fridh, during his visit to WHO’s headquarters in Geneva.
COVAX urgently needs 20 million doses during the second quarter of 2021 to cover interruptions in supply triggered by increased demands for vaccines in India where COVAX’s main supplier of the AstraZeneca product is based.
Dr Tedros added: “Such support will ensure that people in vulnerable countries, especially, in Africa, will be able to receive their second doses through the COVAX initiative. Sweden’s generous support is very timely as it comes at a time when the world needs it most.”
WHO and its partners are advocating for countries to make contributions, like Sweden’s, to donate doses from their stocks to boost vaccine supplies to COVAX to deepen vaccination coverage in low income countries and to ensure populations in such places receive needed second doses. Several other countries have made similar commitments recently, including New Zealand and France.