Medical staff hold a vial of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination center amid the coronavirus outbreak in Ronquieres, Belgium, on April 6, 2021.
Eve Herman | Reuters
On Monday, UNICEF chief urged G-7 countries to donate supplies to the COVAX Vaccine Sharing Program as an emergency measure to address a serious shortage caused by the disruption of India̵7;s vaccine exports.
India has suspended exports of the AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute, which pledged to use COVAX for the country to fight a second wave of infections.
UNICEF, the UN agency responsible for supplying the coronavirus vaccine through COVAX, estimates supply will be shortened at 140 million doses by the end of May and about 190 million doses by the end of June.
“The immediate share of the surplus is a necessary and emergency and necessary minimum gap stop now,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Four, adding that this could “be the case”. It helps to prevent vulnerable countries from becoming a global focus.
As G-7 leaders set to meet in England next month, the head of the World Health Organization last week condemned. The “moral disaster” of vaccine inequality, urging wealthy countries to donate more medicines than to use for children who are less at risk of severe disease.
Citing new research from scientific data and analysis, UNICEF’s Airfinity Fore said the G-7 countries could donate approximately 153 million doses if they only shared 20% of their available supply during the month of June and July. August
This could be done while still meeting the obligations to vaccinate their own populations, she said, without giving further details.
COVAX, jointly run by the WHO and vaccine partner GAVI, relies on AstraZeneca’s shot, which accounts for the bulk of the vaccine allocated for early launch as it tries to supply 2 billion doses this year.
UNICEF said other manufacturing restrictions outside India also slowed supply of COVAX. But these delays are expected to be resolved by the end of June.