The COVAX facility launched early in the pandemic with the best of intentions: fair access for all countries to COVID-19 vaccines and a strong counter move to rich countries determined to buy up vaccines first.
But, then the inspired goals ran into reality and things fell apart, according to a damning Bureau of Investigative Journalism and STAT investigation based on interviews with officials from 2 dozen countries.
Where we are now:
- 98% of people in low-income countries still need to be vaccinated.
- COVAX is responsible for <5% of all jabs put in arms globally.
- It said recently that it won’t make its 2 billion doses target for 2021.
What the investigation found:
- Doses arrived late or not all—causing chaos and delaying second doses in some countries.
- Doses that were delivered close to their expiration date were returned or trashed.
- Calls to COVAX by top diplomats went unanswered.
- COVAX relied too much on vaccines from India. When India banned vaccines this spring during its crisis, supplies plummeted. (“Where was the risk analysis?” asked one expert.)
COVAX response: The facility blamed manufacturers for unanticipated shortfalls.
Ed Note: This is great journalism. A must-read.
Today: A report, commissioned by COVAX’s umbrella organization and previewed by the journalists, is scheduled to be released today.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and STAT