Poorer countries face long wait for vaccines despite promises

Poor countries face long wait for vaccines despite promises
Poorer countries have to wait longer for vaccines. Source: AP Photo
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Daily US Times: With the US, UK, and Canada rolling up their mass vaccinations, the route out of the pandemic now seems clear to many in the West, even if the rollout of the vaccine will take many months. But for poorer countries, the road of getting Covid-19 vaccines will be far longer and rougher.

The ambitious step known as COVAX created to ensure the entire world has access to coronavirus vaccines has secured only a fraction of the 2 billion doses it hopes to buy over the next year. The initiative has yet to confirm any actual deals to ship out vaccines and is short on cash.

The coronavirus that has killed more than 1.6 million people around the world has exposed vast inequities between countries, as smaller economies, poorer countries and fragile health systems were often hit harder. COVAX was set up by the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccines alliance CEPI and GAVI, a global coalition to fight epidemics, to avoid the international stampede for Covid vaccines that has accompanied past the notorious outbreaks and would reinforce those imbalances.

But now some experts say the chances that vaccine shots will be shared fairly between rich countries and the rest are fading fast. With the coronavirus vaccine supplies currently limited only in developed countries, some of which helped fund the research with taxpayer money. These countries are under tremendous pressure to protect their own populations and are buying up vaccines. Meanwhile, some poorer countries that signed up to the initiative are looking for new alternatives because of fears that it won’t deliver.

Arnaud Bernaert, head of global health at the World Economic Forum, said Of the approximately 12 billion doses the pharmaceutical industry is expected to produce next year, while about 9 billion shots have already been reserved by rich countries.

“COVAX has not secured enough doses, and the way the situation may unfold is they will probably only get these doses fairly late,” Bernaert said.

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