Covid-19: R15bn more needed for Covax vaccine rollout, says Unicef chief

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The Covax initiative is said to need about $1 billion.
The Covax initiative is said to need about $1 billion.
Michael Ciaglo, Getty Images via AFP

The United Nations' children's fund on Wednesday urged countries to contribute more money to help poor countries access Covid-19 vaccines, saying around $1 billion (about R15 billion) was needed.

Unicef, the world's single largest vaccine buyer, is part of the World Health Organisation-backed Covax programme to supply Covid-19 shots to emerging economies.

South Africa is one of the countries in the programme.

"We have been asking the world for more funding ... for Unicef and our distribution to countries we still need about $1 billion," Unicef Executive Director Henrietta Fore said at Dubai's World Government Summit, held virtually this year.

READ | WHO will pay out a lump sum for vaccine side effects from Covid-19 Covax programme

That funding could be used strengthen health systems in poorer nations and support the distribution of vaccines there, she said.

The Covax initiative aims to deliver at least 2 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses this year, including 1.3 billion doses to lower income countries.

Fore urged vaccine makers to sign licensing agreements so vaccines could be made locally, singling out Africa as one market that needed it.

She also said it was unlikely the Covax scheme would be able to cover the world this year.

"There is still more to do and we could do with more help and assistance."

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