The billionth COVAX dose (and the billions more needed)

The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced last week that COVAX had delivered its billionth dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The international vaccination equity effort achieved this with a shipment of 1.1 million COVID vaccines to Rwanda. It has delivered vaccines to 144 countries to date.

COVAX, which is run by the WHO, the Vaccine Alliance, and the Centre for Epidemic Preparedness, has aimed to make vaccines accessible around the world, as well as boosting the development and manufacture of vaccines. Nearly 200 countries have signed up to the scheme; when signing on, each country adds money to a pool in order to guarantee vaccine access for its citizens, as well as being able to give more funds to support access in lower-income countries.

But COVAX had aimed to deliver two billion doses by the end of 2021.

“COVAX’s ambition was compromised by hoarding/stockpiling in rich countries, [and] catastrophic outbreaks leading to borders and supply being locked,” the WHO said in a statement.

The WHO also highlighted a lack of cooperation among pharmaceutical companies and governments as a hindrance.

“A lack of sharing of licenses, technology and know-how by pharmaceutical companies meant manufacturing capacity went unused.”

Aside from improving global health, widespread vaccination is one of the best ways to limit the likelihood of new variants of COVID-19 emerging.

Many wealthy countries are delivering third and even fourth doses of vaccines to people (there’s evidence that a third dose protects better against Omicron, but no such evidence for a fourth).

Meanwhile, 36 countries have vaccinated less than 10% of their populations, and 88 haven’t passed 40%.

Please login to favourite this article.