Politics, Policy & Law
IMF plan seeks to vaccinate 40% of world’s population this year
In an announcement that coincided with the G20 summit on global health, the IMF Friday outlined a $50 billion plan that it said would make it possible to “vaccinate at least 40 percent of the population in all countries by the end of 2021 and at least 60 percent by the first half of 2022.”
In a blog post, the IMF’s leaders emphasized the need for the international community to invest substantial financial resources immediately, rather than make commitments for future spending. They wrote that “the strategy requires not just commitments but upfront financing, upfront vaccine donations, and ‘at-risk’ investment for the world to insure against downside scenarios.”
IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, Gita Gopinath, director of the fund’s research department, and Ruchir Agarwal, an IMF economist, warned that in addition to causing a humanitarian disaster, global disparities in vaccination will create global economic instabilities. They noted that “as of the end of April 2021, less than two percent of Africa’s population had been vaccinated,” while “over 40 percent of the population in the United States and over 20 percent in Europe had received at least one dose of the vaccine.”
The plan calls for at least $35 billion in grants, along with $15 billion in national governmental resources and concessional financing, and noted that G20 countries have already “identified as important” the need to provide $22 billion in grants.
Elements of the IMF’s plan include providing at least $4 billion in additional grants to COVAX to “help finalize orders and activate unused vaccine capacity,” and eliminating restrictions on cross-border flows of raw materials and finished vaccines.
The plan would allocate another $3 billion towards scaling up genomic surveillance and systemic supply chain surveillance, and $8 billion towards “at-risk” investments “to diversify and increase vaccine production capacity by 1 billion doses in early 2022 to handle downside risks in 91 low- and middle-income countries, including from new variants that may require booster shots.”
The IMF also challenges countries with vaccine inventories to “immediately” donate surplus vaccines through COVAX for global distribution. It estimates that “at least 500 million vaccines courses (equivalent to around 1 billion doses) can be donated in 2021, even if countries give preference to their own populations.”
The U.S. has committed to donating 80 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines over six weeks, an amount that global health groups say falls far short of U.S. capacity.