Many poor countries relying on receiving Covid-19 vaccines through the Covax global sharing scheme do not have enough doses to continue their programmes, the World Health Organization (WHO) is saying. Uganda, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, and Trinidad and Tobago are just some of the countries that have reported running out of vaccines in recent days.
Covax was created last year to ensure Covid-19 vaccines are made available around the world, with richer countries subsidising costs for poorer nations. WHO senior adviser Dr Bruce Aylward said Covax has delivered 90 million doses to 131 countries, but this is nowhere near enough to protect populations from a virus still on the rise worldwide. Some African countries are entering a third wave of infections, reports the BBC. On Monday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa called for an end to vaccine hoarding by wealthier countries as his government struggles to curb a steep rise in cases. He said the whole African continent has been able to administer only 40 million doses so far – less than 2% of the population. His government is working with Covax to create a regional hub to produce more vaccines in South Africa.
Led by WHO and other international organisations, Covax initially set a target of providing two billion doses to poorer countries worldwide by the end of 2021. However, distribution has been hampered by manufacturing delays and supply disruptions, leading to shortages in countries wholly reliant on Covax.