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GAVI urges more countries to join COVAX, 'enormous consolidated market'

FILE PHOTO: Seth Berkley, CEO of GAVI Alliance speaks during the session 'Rising to a Global Challenge: The 15th Anniversary of GAVI' in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos January 22, 2015. REUTERS/Ruben Sprich/File Photo

GENEVA/NEW YORK (Reuters) - The head of the GAVI vaccine alliance on Wednesday urged countries that have not signed up to the COVAX vaccine facility to join the global effort to help finance doses for low- and middle-income countries.

Seth Berkley, addressing a high-level United Nations session in New York, said that 168 countries had now joined COVAX, including 76 wealthy, self-financing ones, adding: “I urge others who are wavering urgently to join us.”

Neither China, Russia nor the United States have joined the facility, although World Health Organization (WHO) officials have said they are still holding talks with China.

The pharmaceutical “industry should know the enormous consolidated market we are bringing to them,” Berkley said.

“We need to secure $2 bln for advance market commitment by December to ensure reservation of COVID-19 vaccine doses for 92 low income countries and at least another $5 bln to secure these in 2021,” Berkley said.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva and Michelle Nichols in New York