In its latest Supply Forecast, the multilateral vaccine equity program COVAX announced expectations of 1.425 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines available this year, with 2 billion doses available for delivery in the first quarter of 2022 — a milestone, but still a lagging figure.
Resulting from a year of financing, negotiations with developers and manufacturers, and navigating technical hurdles from a world of moving parts, COVAX reported that of the 1.425 billion doses wrangled, approximately 1.2 billion would be available for lower income economies participating in its COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC). While important to see vaccines flowing at these levels, for reference, COVAX noted this would only be enough to protect 20 percent of the 92 AMC economies, minus India.
The picture is broader than that, however: over the last 12 months, COVAX — under the joint leadership of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF — managed to secure more than $10 billion in funding, lock in legally-binding agreements for up to 4.5 billion doses of vaccines and deliver 240 million doses across 139 countries. Yet more is needed.
COVAX noted that the 20 percent vaccination rate among low and lower-middle-income countries is a stark contrast to high and upper-middle income countries, where as high as 80 percent of populations are vaccinated. Urgent action by producers and high-coverage countries is needed, the organization warned, or COVAX’s efforts will be hampered by export bans, prioritization of bilateral deals between manufacturers and nations, production scaling issues and regulatory delays.
“In addition to working closely with participating governments to ensure the conditions are in place on the ground to facilitate successful rollout of vaccines, COVAX and its partners call on donors and manufacturers to recommit their support, and prevent further delays to equitable access,” the organization said in a statement.
Currently, more than 200 million doses of COVAX’s stock are set to be allocated to self-financing participants. Going forward, the organization hopes to see manufacturers be transparent about their capabilities and deliver vaccine doses to COVAX according to existing commitments. It also seeks information on manufacturer queues, its place within them and whether nations higher up — but which have already achieved high vaccine coverage — could be convinced to relinquish their spots to COVAX.
Along the way, COVAX also wishes to expand, accelerate and develop a system of dose donations from countries that are already stocked and successful with their vaccination programs. It is especially interested in procuring a more predictable volume of vaccines, with longer shelf lives, to make it easier for countries struggling to prepare for deliveries.