Coronavirus

COVID-19 vaccine shortages persist in low-income countries, WHO says

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Many low-income countries cannot continue their respective COVID-19 vaccine campaigns due to dose shortages, according to the World Health Organization.

COVAX, founded in April 2020, is a worldwide initiative to ensure “equitable access” to COVID-19 vaccine doses. It has hopes of distributing enough vaccines, especially to low-income countries, to protect at least 20 percent of the populations.

The program had already delivered 90 million doses to 131 countries, Senior Adviser Dr. Bruce Aylward of WHO stated. He noted, however, that this was “nowhere near enough” to protect people from the ongoing pandemic.

On Monday, the health official acknowledged the extent of the vaccine shortage during a WHO briefing. As it happens, many low-income countries are now running out of stock, according to BBC.

COVID-19 vaccine doses are running out

COVAX set a target of giving out two billion COVID-19 vaccine doses across the globe by the end of the year. However, the initiative itself reportedly faces a vaccine shortage.

As explained, “supply disruptions” and “manufacturing delays” are causing this. Accordingly, countries that are reliant on COVAX directly experience a shortage of vaccines.

Dr. Bruce Aylward said that over half of these 80 low-income countries “do not have sufficient” stocks to sustain their COVID-19 vaccine programs. They have run out of stock and are calling for additional supply, he added.

Reports consequently state that some of these countries include Uganda, Bangladesh, Trinidad and Tobago, and Zimbabwe.

Wealthier countries donate vaccines through COVAX

As the crisis over the COVID-19 vaccine supply continues to develop, wealthier countries, especially those that have spare doses, are stepping up. They are leading efforts to donate vaccines through COVAX and other means.

The same publication then recalled that the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden made an announcement regarding the matter on Monday. It planned to donate 55 million vaccine doses to countries in need of them. 41 million of these would go through COVAX, while the remaining doses would be shared with the priority countries.

This is not part of the 500 million vaccine provision through COVAX. He made the pledge during the G7 Summit earlier this month.

As noted, the G7 world leaders committed to donating 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses collectively. While half of it will come from the U.S., 100 million doses will come from the United Kingdom.

Japan has pledged $1 billion and over AU$791 million from the EU. Meanwhile, other European countries have collectively promised more than AU$1.58 billion. As for Germany, France, Italy, and Sweden, together, they are committed to providing 100 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Images (1) & (2) courtesy of World Health Organization (WHO)/YouTube

Mike Pantoja-Contreras

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Mike Pantoja-Contreras

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