UNICEF to ask G7, EU to donate 150 million vaccine doses to COVAX program

New Delhi, May 27 (EFE).-UNICEF and other agencies are set to urge the G7 countries and the European Union to donate 150 million doses of anti-Covid vaccines to COVAX, the Covid-19 Global Access fund, officials said on Thursday.

The request comes as COVAX faces a shortage of 190 million doses due to the de-facto export blockade at the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer that produces AstraZeneca’s anti-Covid vaccine.

“It looks like in June, July this year, all of the G7 countries and European Union collectively will have more than 150 million doses available, and (will) still be able to keep on track for vaccinating their whole adult populations across the summer,” a high-ranking UNICEF official said in a media briefing.

He said that the United Nations body’s immediate priority was influencing the leaders of wealthy nations so that COVAX could fulfill its mission to ensure the equitable distribution of millions of vaccines to low-income countries.

However, UNICEF sources said that many countries had pledged to donate vaccines but failed to take any concrete steps in this direction.

“So far, you know, quite honestly, most of them have been, (…) closer to a signal of intent than a real commitment. (…) It’s not time bound, not concrete, not very clear which products (will be donated), where and how,” the official said on Thursday.

South Asia has been struggling to contain the pandemic as India has been devastated by a severe second wave and countries such as Nepal have seen a surge in cases, even as several new variants of the virus have appeared in the region.

This has led to concerns among experts that such a crisis could be repeated in countries that have not been able to vaccinate a significant part of their population due to lack of doses.

“There is a great sense of urgency,” the UNICEF representative admitted.

Although the Indian government insists that it has not imposed an official ban on vaccine exports, the coronavirus crisis in the country has effectively put a stop on SII’s exports.

The institute had signed a contract to supply millions of vaccine doses to the COVAX program, backed by the World Health Organizations.

According to UNICEF, in June COVAX would have 190 million doses less than its target, mainly due to the supply from India getting stopped.

The COVAX leadership is trying to “diversify” its vaccine supply chain in the medium and long-term to avoid the risky dependence on a single producer – like in the case of SII – but these efforts would not solve the immediate crisis of doses, the official explained. EFE


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