Poor countries in the Covax Equal Vaccine Distribution Program have to wait for supplies after India and the EU tighten exports.
As the number of nCoV infections in the world resumed high, so did vaccine nationalism at major manufacturers like India and Europe. On 24/3, the EU announced to limit the export of vaccines to boost vaccination in the bloc. India has a similar move in the face of a new wave of infections and a slowdown in the immunization campaign. This affects vulnerable countries waiting for the millions of promised doses of vaccine to be distributed through the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Covax initiative.
Vaccine “wormhole” between rich and poor countries
The plan to maintain domestic supplies of countries capable of producing vaccines is making another “record hole” between rich and poor countries, putting another blow on the prospects of global cooperation against Covid-19, according to the General. WHO director Tedros Adhanom.
The world’s largest vaccine maker, the Indian Serum Institute, is the main source of Covax. Through the program, 2 billion injectable doses will be distributed to middle and low income countries, which cannot negotiate direct sales with pharmaceutical firms.
The initiative is threatened when India decides to cut some export shipments, keep more vaccines for use in the country when there is a new outbreak. The government wants to expand vaccinations for people aged 45 and over. The Serum Institute has been licensed to export vaccines since early January but has not been able to enforce it because there is no nod from authorities.
According to Gavi Vaccine Alliance data, the distribution of developing countries from Kenya to Brazil has been delayed. The primary deficiency of the vaccine is from AstraZeneca, produced by the Indian Serum Institute.
Data show that most countries have already received doses of Pfizer distributed by Covax. However, not many countries can afford to freeze the mRNA vaccine.
The move from India reminds people of the controversial EU decision. The coalition has restricted vaccine exports in response to criticism of the slow and chaotic vaccination campaign. Both regions have exported more vaccines than they were distributed domestically, and are now under pressure as the number of infections has risen again.
Fiona Russell, Asia-Pacific health group leader at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, said hopes for vaccine equality are collapsing.
“We foresaw that, because the vaccine is stuck in Europe, now India and America. Supply to the rest of the world is nowhere. It’s a big problem,” she said.
In recent months, India has worked to strengthen its global image through vaccine diplomacy, alongside China. Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Foreign Minister promoting national friendship with the “Made in India” vaccine to Bolivia, South Sudan and the Solomon Islands.
But after the country donated more than 60 million doses of vaccine, exports stalled. Criticism of the slow vaccination rate and the five-fold increase in new infections over the past months has made India change its move.
According to the Gavi Vaccine Alliance, the increase in demand for domestic vaccines in India is the reason why officials have delayed the export licensing of the Serum Institute.
“Covax is in talks with the government to ensure the fastest possible delivery,” a Gavi representative said.
The stance to focus on domestic vaccine distribution is taken for granted in the world’s most powerful economies. The US orders nearly enough doses to be administered twice per adult, still replenishing stock.
Although the export of vaccines is restricted, US companies are still required to complete contracts with other countries, the Biden administration said. Earlier this month, the country planned to send 4 million doses of the vaccine to Mexico and Canada.
“Every government is accountable to its citizens,” said Jaspreet Pannu, resident doctor, biosecurity and global health researcher at Stanford University School of Medicine. global benefits “.
Since Ghana became the first country to receive 600,000 doses of the vaccine from Covax, the program has distributed more than 32 million doses to 60 countries. But supply constraints are holding back the pace of deployment, officials said.
Bruce Aylward, WHO’s senior advisor, points out that the Indian Serum Institute and AstraZeneca are not providing enough vaccines. “Manufacturers are not keeping up with our orders right now,” he said.
The malfunction from Covax caused developing countries, especially those that rely entirely on supply from this initiative, into a state of crisis and have to win contracts on their own. Neighboring India Pakistan is scheduled to purchase 45 million injections through Covax. Planning Minister Asad Umar said the first shipment, scheduled to arrive in March, was delayed indefinitely.
The shortage occurs despite the fact that globally, the supply is relatively plentiful. According to a study from the Duke University Medical Innovation Center, vaccines from 13 manufacturers could increase to 12 billion doses by the end of this year, enough to inject 70% of the world’s population if evenly distributed. . This is the goal that WHO is fighting to achieve.
“The need for equal access to vaccines is critical,” said Andrea Taylor, head of Covid-19 research at the Duke University Institute of Global Health. “wait six months or a year to be vaccinated. It only gives the virus more opportunities to evolve and prolong a pandemic.”
Thuc Linh (According to the Bloomberg)