Health Desk – 28 May, 2021: Countries that are advanced in their vaccination programmes are seeing cases of COVID-19 decline, hospitalisations decrease and early signs of some kind of normality resume.
However, the global picture is far more concerning.
At no point in this pandemic have we seen such an acute need to look to the future challenges and not rest on the patchy achievements made so far.
We are seeing the traumatic effects of the terrible surge of COVID-19 in South Asia – a surge which has also severely impacted global vaccine supplies.
We are also witnessing why access to vaccines before a surge occurs is so important. For that reason, we must focus on ensuring countries who have not benefitted from these life-saving tools do so now, and with urgency.
As the global mechanism for equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, COVAX has proven it works. Designed and implemented in the midst of an unprecedented global public health crisis, it has delivered over 70 million doses to 126 countries and economies around the world since February – from remote islands to conflict settings – managing the largest and most complex rollout of vaccines in history. Over 35 countries received their first COVID-19 vaccine doses thanks to COVAX.
However, the terrible surge of the virus in India has had a severe impact on COVAX’s supply in the second quarter of this year, to the point where, by the end of June we will face a shortfall of 190 million doses.
Even though COVAX will have larger volumes available later in the year through the deals it has already secured with several manufacturers, if we do not address the current, urgent shortfall the consequences could be catastrophic.