The WHO has released a statement citing that the COVAX initiative has already achieved significant progress and hit major milestones. These achievements include, the raising of more than US$10 billion, legally-binding commitments for up to 4.5 billion doses of vaccine and the delivery of 240 million doses to 139 countries in just six months.
The statement explained that twelve months ago, the world came together to support COVAX with the aim of guaranteeing global access to life-saving COVID-19 vaccines, and with this support, began securing financing and entering into negotiations with vaccine developers and manufacturers.
In addition, the initiative begun addressing technical and operational challenges associated with rolling out the largest and most complex vaccination programme in history.
Despite this, only 20% of the population of low- and middle-income countries have received a first dose of the vaccine compared to 80% of the population in high- and upper-middle income countries. This is due to the fact that much of the early global supply of the vaccine had been bought by wealthy or high-income countries.
The statement further revealed that COVAX was unable to ensure that the most vulnerable people in the world get adequate vaccine supply due to a number of drawbacks including, export bans in some countries, prioritization of bilateral deals by manufacturers and countries, challenges in scaling up production by some key producers, and delays in filing for regulatory approval.
Going further, COVAX expects to have access to 1.43 billion doses of vaccine in 2021, and of these doses, approximately 1.2 billion will be supplied to the lower-income economies participating in the COVAX
Advance Market Commitment (AMC). The initiative believes this would be enough to protect 40% of all adults, in all 92 AMC economies with the exception of India.
The milestone of two billion doses released for delivery is now expected to be reached in the first quarter of 2022 and COVAX hopes that its donors and manufacturers will recommit their support, and prevent further delays to equitable access.
COVAX and its partners have called on vaccine manufacturers to deliver in accordance with firm commitments and provide transparency on timelines for availability to COVAX to allow countries to plan in advance.
Lastly, the initiative has also appealed to countries who are ahead of COVAX in manufacturer queues, to give up their place in the queue to COVAX so that its participants can access the doses already secured via supply contracts and deliver vaccines to where they are needed most.