Covid-19: Covax may soon see vaccine shortfalls, WHO warns

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
The Covax programme may soon see a shortfall in vaccine doses.
The Covax programme may soon see a shortfall in vaccine doses.
Johanes Christo/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • The WHO has warned of possible shortfalls of vaccine doses in the Covax programme.
  • Covax was set up to ensure poorer or emerging countries are well-stocked with vaccines.
  • A total of 129 territories have been serviced by Covax.


The World Health Organisation 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.

READ | WHO sounds the alarm: SA's rising cases 'account for a third of all new cases in Africa'

"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

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% of the population in 92 of the poorest participating territories - 20% 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% 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% have been administered in high-income countries accounting for 16% of the global population.

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


We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
President Ramaphosa has punted the idea of mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for South Africans. This is:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
The right thing to do. We desperately need more South Africans vaccinated to prevent further mutations and restore normality in our lives.
71% - 9349 votes
A risky strategy. Compulsory vaccinations may have unintended consequences and damage our rollout campaign.
29% - 3748 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
16.14
-1.3%
Rand - Pound
21.36
-0.4%
Rand - Euro
18.26
-0.4%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.30
-0.5%
Rand - Yen
0.14
-0.4%
Gold
1,783.48
0.0%
Silver
22.55
0.0%
Palladium
1,816.00
0.0%
Platinum
936.31
0.0%
Brent Crude
69.88
+0.3%
Top 40
64,307
-0.4%
All Share
70,808
-0.3%
Resource 10
66,503
-1.6%
Industrial 25
93,791
+0.1%
Financial 15
13,982
+0.7%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE