Rich countries have a surplus of at least 1.2 billion vaccines against COVID-19 Despite this, many continue to close contracts with pharmaceutical companies to receive more doses in the coming months, which hampers efforts in favor of equitable access to these products, which are still out of the reach of a good part of the world’s population.
“There are at least 1.2 billion dose surpluses in rich countries, which could be well used. We ask those countries to exchange with COVAX and with the African Union their places in the production lines so that we can finally access the doses that correspond to the orders we have made, “the director responsible for Countries and Government Affairs of the alliance for companies told EFE. vaccines GAVI, Santiago Cornejo.
COVAX is the mechanism that created the World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with GAVI in April 2020, when testing of the vaccines But it was already clear that once they were ready the countries with the capacity to negotiate and pay would monopolize them and leave very little for the rest of the world.
What the WHO feared happened and while developed countries have stored hundreds of millions of vaccines and begin to offer one after another a third dose to their populations, only 5.8% of the population of Africa has received the first, according to the most recent data that drives GAVI.
HOW TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM?
Next week the high-level segment of the UN General Assembly will be held in New York and its president, the Maldivian ambassador, Abdullah Shahid, has said that he plans to convene a meeting with leaders and experts to discuss how to close the gap in access to vaccines.
However, all eyes are on a summit that the president of the United States, Joe Biden, would be preparing next week with other leaders who will be in their country for the meeting of the HIM-HER-IT.
According to leaks, Biden would present at the summit a series of very ambitious goals to extend the vaccination up to 70% of the world’s population within a year.
The experts who are immersed in the day-to-day management and logistics to try to get vaccines to the most neglected countries believe that if massive donations were combined and the lifting of the ban that some countries have imposed on the export of vaccines And from some of its ingredients, a part of the problem could be solved.
For a more complete solution, it would also be necessary for pharmaceutical companies to agree to prioritize orders for COVAX above agreements with countries that offer to pay more for vaccines.
SUFFICIENT PRODUCTION BUT UNEQUAL DISTRIBUTION
Scientists say that inequality in access to vaccines is one of the main causes of the continued appearance of variants of the coronavirus which are more contagious and in certain cases can cause more severe illness.
Pharmaceutical companies have made public that they have produced about 8 billion doses of vaccines so far, which will reach 12 billion by the end of the year and 24 billion by mid-2022.
“The question we should ask producers and donors is where are these doses and how can they reach the people who need them?” Said the director of COVAX interviewed by Efe.
Part of the answer lies in the orders that several rich countries continue to pass, such as the United States, which last July closed a new agreement with Pfizer/BioNTech for the purchase of 200 million additional doses that will receive between next October and April.
They are added to the 500 million that it has already bought from this same company, and from other agreements with Modern and Jonhson & Johnson.
COVAX has distributed 280 million doses to 141 countries, of which 76 million have gone to Africa and about 45 million to Latin America and the Caribbean, where 58% of the population has received a dose and 35% is completely vaccinated, although here the problem of the disparity between one country and another is repeated.
Having seen all the difficulties that have arisen for a vaccination global fair, COVAX it has acknowledged that it will not be able to deliver the 2 billion doses it had projected to developing countries this year.
The program indicated that it will only have 1.4 billion, which has reduced its objective of guaranteeing the immunization 40% of the population of all the poorest countries before the end of 2021.
The current target is 20%, which would make it possible to cover all the most vulnerable groups.
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