WHO warns of Covax doses shortfall in June, July | SAMAA

The World Health Organization said Friday a shortfall in Covid-19 vaccine doses going through the Covax programme in June and July could undermine the efficiency of the roll-out.

Covax was set up to ensure equitable distribution of
vaccines, particularly to low-income countries, and has already delivered more
than 80 million doses to 129 territories.

But that is “about 200 million doses behind where we
want to be”, Bruce Aylward, the WHO’s Covax frontman, told reporters in
Geneva.

So while wealthy countries had pledged to give some 150
million doses so far — on top of the doses Covax procures with donated funds
— that would not resolve the problem.

“We are setting up for failure if we don’t get early
doses. We are not on track yet: we don’t have enough doses from enough
countries early enough to get the world on track to get out of this,”
Aylward said.

While the pledges to donate 150 million doses through Covax
was a “great start”, Aylward said there were “two big
problems”.

“Number one, very little is committed to the June-July
period, which means we’re going to still have this gap,” Aylward said.

“The other problem is just the volume. If we are going
to get on track to get at least 30-40 percent of the world population
vaccinated this year we got to get another 250 million people vaccinated
between now and the end of September.”

Supply problems

Covax is an international scheme co-led by the WHO, Gavi and
the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

It intends to procure enough vaccines for 30 percent of the
population in 92 of the poorest participating territories — 20 percent in
India — with donors covering the cost.

Covax has been hit by inequalities in the global vaccine
roll-out, but also delivery delays.

AstraZeneca shots making up 97 percent of doses supplied so
far — the rest being Pfizer-BioNTech.

The Serum Institute of India, producing AstraZeneca doses,
was to have been the backbone of Covax’s supply chain. However, New Delhi
restricted vaccine exports to combat a devastating domestic surge.

SII said Wednesday that it hoped to resume supplies to Covax
over the next few months.

Covax was set up to combat the likelihood of rich countries
buying up most available vaccine doses — which occurred as predicted.

On Thursday, the world hit the milestone of two billion
Covid-19 vaccines having been injected around the world, according to an AFP
count.

But of those doses, 37 percent have been administered in
high-income countries accounting for 16 percent of the global population.

Just 0.3 percent have been administered in the 29
lowest-income countries, home to nine percent of the world’s people.

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