COVAX, the only global initiative to ensure Covid-19 vaccines for all, has made a call to action for equipping it to deliver 2 billion doses in 2021 as the biggest effort to vaccinate the developing world is falling apart.
"It is now imperative to build on this momentum to secure full funding for COVAX and more vaccines – right now – for lower-income countries at the Advance Market Commitment Summit on June 2," COVAX said in a joint statement Thursday.
"But it will require governments and the private sector to urgently unlock new sources of doses, with deliveries starting in June, and funding so we can deliver," it said.
COVAX, the facility set up by the World Health Organization and several non-profits to deliver Covid-19 vaccines to developing nations, is working in partnership with Unicef as a key implementing partner, developed and developing country vaccine manufacturers, the World Bank, and others.
Last year, Covax, the vaccines pillar of the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, targeted securing and distributing 2 billion doses by the end of 2021.
Millions of dollars and doses were committed to COVAX on May 21, bringing the total of doses pledged so far to more than 150 million.
"If the world's leaders rally together, the original COVAX objectives – delivery of 2 billion doses of vaccines worldwide in 2021, and 1.8 billion doses to 92 lower-income economies by early 2022 are still well within reach," read the joint statement.
Countries that are advanced in their vaccination programmes are seeing cases of Covid-19 decline, hospitalisations decrease and early signs of some kind of normality resume. However, the global picture is far more concerning.
"At no point in this pandemic have we seen such an acute need to look to the future challenges and not rest on the patchy achievements made so far," said the statement. "We are seeing the traumatic effects of the terrible surge of Covid-19 in South Asia – a surge which has also severely impacted global vaccine supplies."
Designed and implemented amid an unprecedented global public health crisis, COVAX has delivered over 70 million doses to 126 countries and economies around the world since February – from remote islands to conflict settings – managing the largest and most complex rollout of vaccines in history.
Over 35 countries received their first Covid-19 vaccine doses thanks to COVAX.
However, the terrible surge of the virus in India has had a severe impact on COVAX's supply in the second quarter of this year, to the point where, by the end of June we will face a shortfall of 190 million doses.
"Even though COVAX will have larger volumes available later in the year through the deals it has already secured with several manufacturers, if we do not address the current, urgent shortfall the consequences could be catastrophic," read the statement.