COVAX Path Paved With Broken Promises

Image: Airport staff and health personnel handle containers containing doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at Goma International Airport, Democratic Republic of Congo. April 21, 2021. Image: Guerchom Ndebo/Getty
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Image: Airport staff and health personnel handle containers containing doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at Goma International Airport, Democratic Republic of Congo. April 21, 2021. Image: Guerchom Ndebo/Getty

As the COVAX initiative was taking shape—signing on countries, securing financing, and pooling demand “to organize the most complex vaccine rollout in human history”—rich countries were already buying up most of the global supply of COVID-19 vaccines.

The disconnect set off what has become an “unacceptable” picture of global vaccine equity, with COVAX beset by bilateral deals, production bottlenecks, and regulatory delays, the WHO said in a statement yesterday.

  • 80% of citizens in high and upper-middle income nations have had a dose of COVID-19 vaccine—compared to 20% of those living below the top tiers.
  • COVAX has secured legally binding commitments for 4.5 billion doses, but expects to secure just 1.425 billion doses this year.
  • Fewer than 15% of doses pledged by rich countries have materialized.

 
Doubling down: WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus once again called for a moratorium on booster shots Wednesday—a call that has largely been ignored by wealthy nations, AP reports.
 
The Quote: “I will not stay silent when companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world’s poor should be satisfied with leftovers,” Tedros said.

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