COVAX: Ambitious Goals Crashed and Burned

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

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