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More Rich Countries must join the US to finance COVAX Vaccination Plan, says Diplomat

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GENEVA, Jan 22- US President Joe Biden’s decision to join the COVAX Plan could make a “huge difference” in funding for the plan to supply Coronavirus Vaccines to poor Countries, a diplomat with a prominent role in the initiative said on Friday.

Dag Inge Ulstein, Norwegian Minister for International Development and co-chair of the COVAX Facilitation Council together with South Africa, said that other rich countries should join in and donate more vaccines.

“It will make a big difference (for funding), but it’s not just up to the United States,” Ulstein said. “The richest countries have to join in and fill that void.”

The rollout of the COVAX plan, led by the World Health Organization and the GAVI vaccine alliance, will begin next month, and 1.8 billion doses will go to the poorest countries in 2021.

Biden’s top medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, said Thursday that the United States intends to join the initiative.

Fauci also said that the United States will remain a member of the WHO. Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, had halted Washington’s funding of the body and announced a process to withdraw from the entity in July this year.

WHO has asked for help to fill a billion-dollar funding gap for COVAX tests, drugs and vaccines, with Ulstein confirming on Friday that the shortfall is about $ 27 billion by 2021.

Ben Oakley
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