Health

Global vaccine-sharing programme reaches milestone of 1 billion doses

Supplies to poorer nations have long
been very limited because of lack of vaccines, as wealthier states secured most
of the doses initially available from December 2020.

But in the last quarter shipments have
exponentially increased, allowing COVAX to reach the milestone of 1 billion
doses shipped to 144 countries, said Gavi, which co-leads the programme
alongside the World Health Organization (WHO).

COVAX was launched in 2020 with the goal
of delivering 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, but was slowed by wealthier
states’ initial hoarding of limited shots, export restrictions and frequent
changes within its organisation.

The program began delivering vaccine
doses in February 2021. About one-third have been donated by rich nations,
despite COVAX’s initial plans to supply only jabs procured directly by the
programme with a budget of over $10 billion in donors’ funds.

The change of strategy has led to
delays, as donors have often requested to send doses to countries selected by
them.

Despite the recent surge in deliveries,
vaccine inequity remains high. The latest WHO data shows 67% of the population
in richer nations have been fully vaccinated, compared with only 5% in poorer
nations. Over 40% of the world’s population has not yet received a first dose.

Gavi, a vaccine alliance which
co-manages COVAX, is seeking more funds to reach the WHO’s goal of vaccinating
70% of the population in poorer nations by July.

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