The COVAX scheme aimed at equitable global access to Covid-19 vaccines has now delivered more than 500 million doses around the world, figures showed Wednesday.
COVAX was established to ensure poorer countries get Covid jabs but the facility has been hit by setbacks as wealthy nations hog doses straight off the production lines.
COVAX, co-led by the World Health Organisation, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and CEPI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, had said at the beginning of the year it hoped to deliver two billion doses in 2021.
“Thanks to incredible hard work and dedication from partners and health workers, COVAX has delivered 500 million COVID-19 vaccines to 144 countries and territories,” Gavi chief executive Seth Berkley said on Twitter.
The 92 poorest participating territories can access jabs for free via COVAX, with donors covering the costs.
“COVAX has faced challenges in 2021 in the form of export bans, supply shortages and vaccine nationalism. Arrivals in countries are now rapidly ramping up as we strive to ensure countries have as many doses as they are able to administer,” said Berkley.
“When donors and manufacturers give us visibility on when doses arrive, countries can plan large-scale national rollouts. This is the only way we will bridge our dangerous global vaccine divide.”
More than 7.5 billion vaccine doses have been administered around the world, according to an AFP count.
Some 143 doses per 100 people have been injected in high-income countries, compared to fewer than seven per 100 people in low-income nations.
Gavi said Tuesday that five of the world’s poorest countries – Chad, the DR Congo, Congo, Haiti, South Sudan and Yemen – did not even have enough doses to reach two percent of their populations.
The COVAX collective development and procurement scheme was set up to counter the likelihood that much of the world would be shut out from access to any eventual vaccines.
According to its forecasts, it should truly come into force throughout 2022.
Meanwhile, the WHO said that more than 3.3 million new coronavirus cases were reported last week – up six per cent on the previous week.
Just under 50,000 new deaths were registered, with all regions reporting stable or declining trends, apart from Europe which recorded a five-percent increase.