Vaccine alliance CEO says ‘tough’ time to end COVID-19 emergency

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GENEVA, Dec 12 (Reuters) – The head of the GAVI global vaccine alliance suggested on Monday it was too early to call an end to the COVID-19 emergency, saying the pandemic could still get worse.

The World Health Organization (WHO) decides whether an outbreak represents a “public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC)” – a designation intended to trigger a coordinated international response and could unlock funding to collaborate on sharing vaccines and treatments.

Asked whether the WHO should end the COVID-19 emergency phase, GAVI’s Seth Berkley said the situation “could conceivably get worse”.

“So I would guess you know that Dr. Tedros (WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus) is thinking about this global situation, which could conceivably get worse. It could get better. We don’t know where it’s going. It seems like a tough time to stop that emergency,” he told reporters.

At the same press briefing, Berkley said he expected demand for COVID-19 vaccines to remain strong in 2023. 

“We expect hundreds and hundreds of millions of doses to be requested. That’s what countries are saying they want,” he said.

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) is part of the COVAX facility which has provided around 1.9 billion doses to 146 countries so far. 

(Reporting by Emma FargeEditing by Paul Carrel and Mark Potter)


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