World Health Organization sounds alarm on vaccine shortage in poor countries

Henrietta Brewer
June 22, 2021

Roughly 75% of the doses will be shared through the COVAX global vaccine program, with the remaining 25% shared with countries with regional priorities and other considerations. In total, three-quarters of the 80 million will be sent through Covax, a World Health Organisation-backed vaccine procurement effort.

The specific breakdown of doses by country was not provided, but 41 million doses will be split through COVAX between countries in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The United States Government on Monday announced plans to share 55 million U.S. COVID-19 vaccine doses globally, with Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and others through a vaccine sharing programme.

"We have plenty of doses to share with the world, but this is a Herculean logistical challenge", she told reporters, noting safety and regulatory information had to be shared, proper storage temperatures for the vaccines had to be ensured, and language barriers at times had to be overcome.

The Biden-Harris administration will not use its vaccines to secure favours from other countries, it asserted.

The big picture: President Biden and G7 leaders have pledged to send 1 billion doses to the developing world, including 500 million from the USA alone. With more and more Americans getting the shots, the White House increasingly has turned its attention to getting vaccine out internationally.

The first tranche included the Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines, but it was not immediately clear what the second tranche would comprise.

The 55 million doses will be taken from the USA supply of Pfizer Inc, Moderna Inc, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca's vaccines if it gets approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Uganda, Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Trinidad and Tobago are just some of the countries that have reported running out of vaccines in recent days.

"As we continue to fight the Covid-19 pandemic at home and work to end the pandemic worldwide, President Biden has promised that the United States will be an arsenal of vaccines for the world", the White House said in a statement.

The remaining one-fourth will be spread among at least two dozen places to help address virus surges, including Colombia, Argentina, Haiti, the Philippines, Vietnam, Iraq, Ukraine, Bosnia, South Africa, the West Bank and Gaza.

Global partners are eager to get USA help.

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