A World Health Organization spokesman said Wednesday that a UN-backed vaccine program will fail on its target of delivering doses to Latin America and the Caribbean this year, in part because wealthy countries that pay more for vaccinations are buying up most of the supplies. …
The global Covax program, the main source of Covid vaccines for much of the world, aims to ensure this year enough doses for Latin America and the Caribbean to vaccinate 20 percent of the population. But most countries only received about 30 percent of the shipments they entered through Covax, said Dr. Yarbas Barbosa, assistant director of the Pan American Health Organization, a division of WHO.
“Manufacturers do not prioritize delivery to the Covax mechanism,” Dr. Barbosa said at a press conference. “They continue to prioritize the bilateral agreements that they have because vaccines are more expensive in these bilateral agreements.”
Wealthy countries have far outstripped the rest of the world in vaccination rates and continue to buy doses as demand for revaccinations rises. The WHO said last week that only nine out of 54 African countries had met the target of vaccinating 10 percent of their population by the end of September.
India’s ban on the export of vaccines has led to delays in the delivery of vaccines to other parts of the world. India, the world’s largest drug maker, imposed a ban in May as it lagged behind domestic vaccinations, but recently said it would lift the embargo this month with expanding production and accelerating its own vaccination program.
Covax is focusing on delivering vaccines to countries where less than 10 percent of the population is still vaccinated. In the Americas, these are Jamaica, Nicaragua, and Haiti.
With the Covax program malfunctioning, the Pan American Health Organization has secured separate deals to buy millions of doses of vaccine from China’s Sinopharm and Sinovac, as well as AstraZeneca. But these agreements are still far from satisfying needs.
About 37 per cent of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean was fully vaccinated, but access was very uneven in the region; Cuba, Chile and Uruguay are among the countries in the world with the highest vaccination rates.
“We continue to encourage countries with excess doses of radiation to share them with countries in our region where they can save lives,” said Dr Carissa F. Etienne, Director of PAHO.