Poor countries face long-term expectations for covide vaccines, despite promises

The ambitious initiative, known as COVAX, created to provide worldwide access to COVID-19 vaccines, has secured only a fraction of the 2 billion doses it hopes to buy next year, has not yet confirmed any real agreement. for the delivery of vaccines and is cashless.

The virus, which has killed more than 1.6 million people, has exposed widespread inequities between countries, as fragile health systems and smaller economies have often been hit harder.

COVAX was established by the World Health Organization, the alliance for GAVI and CEPI vaccines, a global epidemic control coalition, to avoid the international vaccine incident that has accompanied past outbreaks and would reinforce these imbalances. But now some experts say the chances of coronavirus shootings being shared fairly among rich nations and the rest fading quickly.

Given that supply of vaccines is currently limited, developed countries, some of which have helped fund research with taxpayers’ money, are under tremendous pressure to protect their own populations and buy fire. Meanwhile, some poorer countries that have signed up to the initiative are looking for alternatives because of fears they will not offer.

“It’s simple math,” said Arnaud Bernaert, head of global health at the World Economic Forum.

Of the approximately 12 billion doses that the pharmaceutical industry expects to produce next year, about 9 billion photographs have already been reserved by rich countries. “COVAX has not provided enough doses, and the way to develop the situation is that they will only receive these doses quite late.”

So far, COVAX’s only legally confirmed agreement is up to 200 million doses, although that includes an option to order several times the number of additional doses, said GAVI spokesman James Fulker. . It has agreements for another 500 million vaccines, but they are not legally binding.

The 200 million doses will come from the Serum Institute in India, the company that is likely to do much of the coronavirus outbreak to the developing world. CEO Adar Poonawalla says he has a confirmed order for 100 million doses each of a vaccine developed by Oxford and AstraZeneca University and one from Novovax.

“We have nothing beyond that in writing,” he told The Associated Press. “If they want more, they will have to place more orders.”

He said the lack of commitment from COVAX will mean a much longer wait for people in developing countries.

Poonawalla also mentioned that his company’s first priority would be to take photos for India, which suggested it wanted at least 300 million vaccines. India may not be able to take all of this at once, but a large order could delay the distribution of vaccines to other parts of the developing world, Poonawalla said.

The potential slowdown in the process is that neither AstraZeneca nor Novovax have yet been authorized by any regulatory agency – and any injection of COVAX will probably require WHO approval. COVAX does not have the two vaccines that seem to be the most effective so far – the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine.

Even with vaccines in hand, launches will take many months, even in rich countries, and many developing countries face serious logistical challenges that will add to the delays, said Dr. Gagandeep Kang, an infectious disease expert. at the Christian College of Medicine in Vellore. in southern India.

Even senior WHO officials have privately acknowledged that attempts to allocate the vaccine on their own initiative are flawed, despite public praise for its success.

“The whole call for global solidarity has been largely lost,” Dr Katherine O’Brien, WHO’s head of vaccines, said during a recent internal discussion, which was obtained by the PA.

Asked to clarify his comments, O’Brien said in an e-mail that “every country should have access to COVID-19 vaccines as soon as possible.”

According to a GAVI report issued before a meeting this week, the alliance itself concluded that the risk of COVAX failing is “very high”, saying that it was “set in record time and must navigate unexplored territory”.

But John Nkengasong, director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, criticized Western countries for buying the global vaccine supply “in excess of their needs, while we in Africa are still struggling with COVAX (the effort).”

Nkengasong called the idea that people in rich countries would be immunized, while Africans would pass without “a moral problem.” Beyond ethics, experts note that the failure to protect people in the developing world will leave a reservoir of coronavirus that could trigger new outbreaks at any time.

Kate Elder, vaccine policy advisor to Doctors Without Borders, said that “it increasingly seems that the ship has sailed on a fair distribution of vaccines” – and GAVI, WHO and others need to discuss how to increase production of vaccines.

To this end, South Africa and India have called on the World Trade Organization to waive some provisions governing intellectual property rights in order to make it easier for producers in poor countries to produce COVID-19 medicines and vaccines. But many rich countries are reluctant to do so.

This story was published from an agency stream with no text changes. Only the title has been changed.

Subscribe to Mint newsletters

* Please enter a valid email

* Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.