A total of 184 countries and economies have now joined COVAX, an international initiative co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners to ensure effective and equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines, the WHO chief announced on Monday.
"COVAX represents the largest portfolio of potential COVID-19 vaccines and the most effective way to share safe and effective vaccines equitably across the world," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a virtual press conference.
"Equitably sharing vaccines is the fastest way to safeguard high-risk communities, stabilize health systems and drive a truly global economic recovery," he added.
As one of the leading countries in vaccine development, China has officially joined COVAX, a move described by a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson as an important step to uphold the concept of a shared community of health for all and to honor its commitment to turning COVID-19 vaccines into a global public good.
At Monday's virtual press conference, Tedros also mentioned "the worrying phase" that the COVID-19 pandemic has entered.
With the coming of winter in the northern hemisphere and sharp acceleration in the number of new COVID-19 cases, Tedros warned that the next few months will be tough, particularly in Europe and North America.
"So it's important that all governments focus on the fundamentals that help to break the chains of transmission and save both lives and livelihoods," Tedros said.
As the world is struggling to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, countries across the globe are racing to find a vaccine. According to the website of WHO, as of Oct. 19, there were 198 COVID-19 candidate vaccines being developed worldwide, and 44 of them were in clinical trials.