More than 55 countries have yet to meet the 10% COVID vaccine target

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Through James Paton, Bloomberg

Updated: 3 hours ago Posted: 3 hours ago

About nine months after the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines, dozens of countries have yet to vaccinate 10% of their population, a step seen as crucial in closing a glaring access gap.

Earlier this year, the head of the World Health Organization called for urgent action to reach that goal by the end of September. But more than 55 countries still have not reached the target, illustrating the problems the Covax distribution program has faced in its attempt to deploy vaccines to all corners of the globe.

Covax earlier this month slashed its supply forecast for 2021, hampered by production delays, export bans and actions by rich countries to protect their own people first. Program partners called on countries that already have enough doses to speed up donations and step back in the queue, and urged companies to be more transparent about their procurement arrangements.

“Manufacturers are choosing not to ship to Covax, and high-income countries are choosing not to send enough doses to these places fast enough,” said Bruce Aylward, WHO senior adviser, in a statement. interview. “There’s no way to water it down.”

Health advocates fear that slow shipments around the world will prolong the pandemic and increase the risk of the emergence of more worrying variants. When supplies in low-income areas start to increase, getting people vaccinated is another challenge.

In May, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for a “sprint to September” to immunize an additional 250 million people in low- and middle-income countries in just four months. The goal is to reach at least 40% by the end of the year and 70% of the world’s population by the middle of next year.

While Covax has struggled to access doses, many wealthy countries have stepped forward. Less than 4% of people in low-income countries are vaccinated with at least one dose, compared to about 61% in high-income countries, according to UN data.

“The turbocharger would have to miss this target to bring attention to this problem,” Aylward said.

According to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker, many countries below 10% aren’t even close, with much of sub-Saharan Africa below 1%. About 56% of the United States is fully vaccinated. The UK is at 67% and Canada at around 71%, while Portugal, at 84%, has the highest percentage of people fully vaccinated among countries with more than one million inhabitants.

Covax, meanwhile, has failed to meet its targets so far, delivering just 311 million doses to more than 140 countries as of September 27. India. Earlier this year, India halted exports to fight a devastating outbreak in its country, but the country is now expected to resume shipments to Covax from the quarter starting in October.

Covax also highlighted challenges at manufacturing sites that have affected the supply of Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines.


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