Australia’s $460m pledge guarantees Fiji’s access to future COVID-19 vaccines

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Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, John Feakes, meets with the Laboratory Manager at Fiji’s Centre of Disease Control (CDC), Talica Cabemaiwai last month. Talica manages a team of seven dedicated female laboratory scientists who conduct COVID-19 testing locally around the clock as well as to post-TC Harold response by testing for leptospirosis, typhoid and dengue. Picture: SUPPLIED

Fiji will be able to access a future COVID-19 vaccine through a new innovative funding mechanism.

This was made known by Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, at the recent Global Vaccine Summit on June 4, 2020 after Australia pledged FJD460million (AUD300 million) for Gavi to continue its vital work in providing access to vaccines for countries across the Indo-Pacific.

According to a statement issued today, Australia’s investment in Gavi is an investment in the health security of our region, and a critical investment in our response to the COVID-19 pandemic as it will ensure there is proper planning for manufacturing and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine when one becomes available.

“Our support to Gavi will also ensure our Fijian vuvale are not priced out of accessing a future COVID-19 vaccine in what will no doubt be a competitive global market,” said Australian High Commissioner to Fiji John Feakes.

Mr Feakes aid Fiji will join other Pacific neighbours including Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu in being eligible for financing to access a COVID-19 vaccine when developed.

Meanwhile, Australian Foreign Minister, Marise Payne said Australia will continue to work together with its neighbours to respond to the COVID-19 challenge while continuing to manage other preventable diseases through vaccines.

“Immunisation saves lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has served as yet another reminder that investing in vaccine access is critical to regional health security,” Ms Payne said.

Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific, the Alex Hawke MP said Australia was pleased to renew its commitment to Gavi.

“Our mission is to see that all children, regardless of where they live, have access to life saving vaccines. I am particularly pleased that for our Pacific family and Timor-Leste, the Alliance has enabled more than 1.5 million children to be vaccinated,” Mr Hawke said.

Gavi is a public-private partnership that provides access to vaccines for low-income countries and will invest FJD1.8 billion from 2021 to provide access to a range of vaccines for 140 million children in the Indo-Pacific region over the next five years.

Australia’s sustained support to Gavi ensures that life-saving vaccines continue to be made accessible to Fiji and the rest of the Indo-Pacific region.