COVAX, a global scheme co-led by World Health Organization (WHO), will for the first time distribute COVID-19 vaccines only to countries with the lowest levels of coverage.
Since January, COVAX – which was set up 15 months ago to ensure fair access for all to COVID-19 vaccines — allocated doses proportionally among 140-plus beneficiary nations according to population size. This resulted in several wealthy nations, which had already secured vaccines through direct deals with pharmaceutical firms, eligible for COVAX quota along with countries which had no supplies at all.
Such inequitable vaccine distribution has meant that while some nations like the US and UK are set to administer booster doses, others are still in the process of giving first jabs. So the WHO has decided to tweak rules for the COVAX quota, for October as of now.
“For the October supply we designed a different methodology, only covering participants with low sources of supply,” WHO Assistant Director General for Access to Vaccines Mariangela Simao said.
The Indian government announced 10 days ago that it will resume vaccine export to fulfil its commitment towards COVAX.
According to WHO, in over 90 poorer nations served by COVAX, about half had immunised less than 20% of their populations and 26 less than 10%. On the contrary, some of the wealthy nations have reached 70% coverage.
About 75 million doses of Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Sinopharm vaccines will be distributed to 49 least-covered countries in October.
A total of 500 million doses have been allotted so far under the COVAX programme, of which 300 million have been shipped to recipient countries.