Covax sharing Photograph:( Reuters )
Rich and poor nations have radically different access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Covax is aimed at providing vaccines to poorer countries, and the inflow of doses will make it more effective
A major influx of vaccination doses is expected to come through for Covax over the coming months, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 250 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be donated within six to eight weeks, it said.
With more than 152 million doses distributed thus far to 137 participating territories, the scheme aims to provide vaccines to poorer countries, and the inflow of doses will be a major boost.
In a weekly operational update issued Wednesday, the WHO said that at a recent UN Crisis Management Team meeting that there will be increased vaccine donations to the Covax facility, projecting an additional 250 million vaccines over the next six to eight weeks".
Covax is a vaccine distribution programme co-led by the World Health Organization, the Gavi vaccine alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, with UNICEF handling the vaccine delivery flights through its vaccine logistics expertise.
92 of the world's poorest countries can get vaccinations free of charge through Covax, the cost of which is supported by donors.
Plants in India that produced AstraZeneca doses were to be Covax's early backbone, but India restricted exports because of its own devastating Coronavirus outbreak.
Consequently, Covax is increasingly dependent on donations from wealthy countries, that have purchased more batches than they need.
Gavi chief executive Seth Berkley emphasized the importance of higher vaccine coverage everywhere in order to protect the most vulnerable against the emergence of new disease variants. He stated that global vaccine demand and supply are far imbalanced, leaving millions unprotected.
Inequity surrounding vaccines
Several countries have begun vaccinating children and giving additional booster vaccinations to it's citizens, while others have so far not been able to vaccinate their health care workers and elderly, who are most at risk of acquiring serious diseases.
It is a matter of grave concern to the WHO that rich and poor nations have starkly different access to COVID-19 vaccines.
To provide full protection, most Covid vaccines require two shots. Among high-income countries, as classified by the World Bank, 96.7 doses have been administered per 100 residents.
In the 29 lowest-income countries, the average dose per 100 people is only 1.6.
On Wednesday, Tanzania was expected to begin rolling out vaccinations, leaving only Burundi, Eritrea and North Korea without COVID-19 immunization campaigns.
Covax delivered over a million single-shot vaccines donated by the United States to Tanzania on Saturday.
A total of 610 million doses are expected to be donated to Covax between 2021 and 2022.
The United States accounts for 260 million of those, while the European Union accounts for 200 million, Britain accounts for 80 million, and Canada and Japan account for about 30 million each.
(With inputs from agencies)