Covax raises $2.4 billion to combat shortfall

Published June 3, 2021
The Covax vaccine programme secured another $2.4 billion from donors on Wednesday, but underlined it was still struggling to get enough doses to help poorer countries fight the Covid-19 pandemic. — Reuters
The Covax vaccine programme secured another $2.4 billion from donors on Wednesday, but underlined it was still struggling to get enough doses to help poorer countries fight the Covid-19 pandemic. — Reuters

GENEVA: The Covax vaccine programme secured another $2.4 billion from donors on Wednesday, but underlined it was still struggling to get enough doses to help poorer countries fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

The scheme is trying to get enough vaccines for 30 percent of the population in 92 of the poorest participating territories — 20 percent in India — with donors covering the cost.

But despite raising more than the $2 billion it was looking for, the programme’s leaders said the major challenge was getting the doses after supplies from the Serum Institute of India (SII) plant dried up.

“Our early secured supply has faced serious, severe disruption as a result of the terrible second wave in India that is consuming all of that country’s production -- to the point where by the end of June we’ll be facing a shortfall of 190 million doses,” said Seth Berkley, chief executive of the Gavi vaccine alliance.

Covax has already delivered nearly 80 million doses to 127 territories, with AstraZeneca shots making up 97 percent of doses supplied so far — the rest being Pfizer-BioNTech.

The SII, producing AstraZeneca doses, was to have been the backbone of Covax’s supply chain. However, New Delhi restricted vaccine exports to combat the devastating domestic surge. The SII said last month it was targeting resuming Covax deliveries by the end of the year.

But the plant’s chief executive Adar Poonawalla was more optimistic on Wednesday, saying: “As soon as the situation in India improves, we hope to resume supplies to Covax over the next few months.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, countries pledged to donate more than 54 million vaccine doses to lower-income nations to try to bridge the supply problems.

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2021

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