SINGAPORE - Ending the coronavirus pandemic requires a collective effort, and more countries should join the global initiative to support equitable access to a Covid-19 vaccine worldwide, said the European Union and 14 nations on Monday (Sept 21).
"We encourage other countries to join this collective global effort to support vaccine multilateralism, and to ensure the unimpeded fair and equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines worldwide," the countries, which make up the Friends of the Covax Facility (FOF), said in a statement.
The FOF - co-chaired by Singapore and Switzerland - comprises the European Union and 12 other countries - Australia, Canada, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Norway, Qatar, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.
The statement comes as a study released by Oxfam, an international confederation of non-governmental organisations, showed a group of wealthy countries representing just 13 per cent of the world population have bought up over half the promised Covid-19 vaccine stocks.
But multilateral initiatives have been touted by experts as ways of reducing the negative impacts of vaccine nationalism.
The Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access (Covax) Facility, for example, is a financing scheme that will enable fast and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines for participating countries and lower-income nations supported under the scheme.
It is an initiative co-led by Gavi, the vaccine alliance; the World Health Organisation (WHO); and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
By working with governments and multinational and developing country vaccine manufacturers, the Covax Facility aims to deliver two billion doses of safe, effective vaccines that have passed regulatory approval and/or WHO pre-qualification by the end of next year.
The Covax Facility is about to set a precedent of multilateral cooperation and solidarity, said the FOF statement.
"We support the Facility's goal to deliver two billion doses of safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines by 2021, and welcome that it currently manages the world's largest and most diverse Covid-19 vaccine portfolio.
"The FOF is pleased to have participated collaboratively in the Facility's co-creation," it added.
Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the statement by the FOF "underscores members' strong support for vaccine multilateralism and the Covax Facility's efforts to ensure access to Covid-19 vaccines for all".