Covax expects to receive 250 million donated Covid-19 vaccine doses over the next six to eight weeks, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
The influx of doses is a major boost to the program, which aims to ensure poorer countries have access to jabs and has delivered 152 million vaccine doses to 137 participating areas to date.
In a weekly operational update released Wednesday, the WHO said it reported at a recent UN crisis management team meeting “that more vaccines will be donated to the Covax facility, with an additional 250 million vaccines being delivered over the next six to eight weeks.” expected”.
Covax is co-led by WHO, the Gavi Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, with UNICEF using its expertise in vaccine logistics to handle the delivery flights.
Under Covax, the 92 poorest countries have free access to jabs, with donors covering the costs.
The Serum Institute of India plant, which produces AstraZeneca doses, is said to be the early backbone of Covax’s supply chain — but India restricted exports to counter its own devastating wave of coronavirus.
Those supply issues have made Covax increasingly dependent on donated doses from rich countries that have bought more batches than they need.
“Global vaccine demand far outstrips supply, leaving millions of the most vulnerable unprotected, while increased vaccine coverage globally is one of our best shields against new variants,” said Gavi CEO Seth Berkley.
The WHO has raged against the drastic imbalance in access to Covid-19 vaccines between rich and poor countries.
While some countries are considering vaccinating and boosting children, others have so far been unable to vaccinate the elderly – the age group most vulnerable to developing serious diseases – and health professionals.
According to an AFP tally, nearly four billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been injected into at least 216 areas worldwide.
In high-income countries, as classified by the World Bank, 96.7 doses have been administered per 100 inhabitants. Most Covid vaccines require two injections to provide full protection.
That figure stands at just 1.6 doses per 100 people in the 29 lowest-income countries.
Tanzania was due to start rolling out vaccinations on Wednesday, leaving only Burundi, Eritrea and North Korea the only countries to start their Covid-19 vaccination campaigns.
On Saturday, Tanzania received its first doses: more than a million single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccines, donated by the US through Covax.
In total, Covax expects at least 610 million donated doses for 2021-2022.
Of these, 260 million come from the US, 200 million from EU countries, 80 million from Great Britain and about 30 million each from Canada and Japan.