A coalition led by the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday that about 156 countries have joined a global plan to equitably distribute future vaccines against COVID-19, but the superpowers of China and the United States have not signed.
The administration of US President Donald Trump has secured future supplies through bilateral agreements, prompting people to accuse selfish behavior of harming poor countries.
China, where the coronavirus originated, did not appear in the list of 64 rich countries that have joined the so-called COVAX plan. By the end of 2021, COVAX plans to provide 2 billion doses of vaccines worldwide, giving priority to medical staff and vulnerable groups.
But coalition officials said the dialogue with Beijing is still going on.
According to the WHO and the Global Vaccine Alliance Vaccine Alliance, the plan will account for two-thirds of the world’s population. The alliance announced the list of signatories after the deadline for binding commitments expires on Friday.
Dozens of vaccines are being tested for the coronavirus, which has infected about 31 million people worldwide and killed nearly 1 million people, one-fifth of the United States.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a virtual briefing: “COVAX will provide the world with the largest and most diverse vaccine candidates.
“This is not charity, it is the best interest of every country. We sink or swim together… This is not only the right thing, but also the wise thing.”
As some wealthier countries remain silent on COVAX, the plan highlights the challenge of equitable distribution of vaccines in a world of what is and what is not.
The Vaccine Alliance said it expects 38 rich countries to join the initiative in the future.
It said it has received $1.4 billion in pledges for vaccine development, but it urgently needs another $700 to 800 million.
The alliance did not disclose which country is providing funding and does not plan to obtain vaccines from the program. France and Germany stated that they would only purchase potential shootings through the European Joint Procurement Program.
More than 150 potential vaccines are being developed and tested globally, of which 38 are in human trials.