“Earlier this year, I called on countries to work together to ensure that all countries start immunizations within the first 100 days of the year,” the director general said on Friday. WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, to reporters.
There are now 15 days left to ensure that the 36 countries that have yet to deliver a single dose can start vaccinating at least their most-at-risk populations, Tedros said.
Of those countries, 16 are expected to receive vaccines in the next two weeks, but 20 countries have yet to receive vaccines.
«COVAX [the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility] needs 10 million doses immediately as an urgent interim measure so that these 20 countries can start immunizing their health workers and the elderly within the next two weeks, ”said Tedros.
“COVAX is ready to deliver, but we cannot deliver the vaccines that we don’t have,” he said. “Ten million doses is not a lot and it is not nearly enough, but it is a start.”
COVAX, an international platform to deliver two billion doses to the world’s poorest countries within a year, has often criticized high-income countries for securing the vast majority of scarce vaccine supplies, contributing to a distribution glaring uneven vaccine delivery.
As of Tuesday, the United States had administered 39 doses per 100 people, compared to nearly 14 percent in the European Union. In contrast, 0.68 injections were administered per 100 people on the African continent, according to Our World in Data.
This week, India dealt a further blow to global vaccine distribution, especially to low-income countries, by temporarily restricting exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced in the country by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
Participants who have received SII-produced vaccines “will experience delays in deliveries that were originally due in March and April,” a spokesperson for the United Nations Children’s Fund told Al Jazeera, noting that deliveries of these vaccines “are expected to start all over again.” by May, with catch-up deliveries to reach each participant’s full allowance through May, accelerating thereafter. ”
The AstraZeneca vaccine produced by IBS is essential for developing countries as it represents the nucleus of vaccines for COVAX. India has so far sent over 60 million doses to 76 countries, mostly AstraZeneca injections made by SII, the world’s largest vaccine maker by volume. Many countries have prioritized the AstraZeneca vaccine in their deployment plans. The vaccine is sold at cost and is easier to store at normal temperatures than other vaccines.
India’s decision has been taken to meet domestic demand as the country grapples with soaring COVID-19 cases and a slow vaccination campaign.
“It’s understandable,” Tedros said, referring to India’s decision to prioritize its own people. “But we are in discussion to keep a balance so that they can use [the vaccines] locally but at the same time continue to provide other countries with vaccines from the Serum Institute, ”he added.
Gavi, the UN-backed international alliance, said in a statement that “SII has pledged that, along with sourcing India, it will prioritize sourcing COVAX as a multilateral solution for fair distribution.