Covax demands fresher doses after delivery record

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A man waits under a banner of the COVID-19 vaccination center in Lisbon on December 1, 2021. Rich countries donating COVID vaccines must give “better quality” doses rather than ones that are about to expire, a Covax chief said Wednesday. (Photo: AFP)
GENEVA  — Rich countries donating COVID vaccines must give “better quality” doses rather than ones that are about to expire, a Covax chief said Wednesday after the scheme notched a new delivery record.اضافة اعلان

The Covax facility was set up by the WHO, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to ensure that poorer countries can access vaccines.

“Covax has had its busiest ever day of deliveries, with over 11 million doses shipped in 24 hours,” Gavi chief executive Seth Berkley tweeted.

The record was broken on Monday with the shipment of 11,386,090 doses to six countries, a Gavi spokesman told AFP.

Covax has faced difficulty purchasing doses because of export problems, as well as wealthy nations hogging batches straight off the production lines — leaving it more reliant on donated jabs.

The scheme had hoped to deliver two billion doses in 2021, but has so far delivered 563 million doses in total to 144 participating economies, with the cost covered for the poorest 92 territories.

‘Line of sight’ 

Donor countries have provided millions of doses to Covax but Berkley pleaded with them to give more advance notice and not to hand on poor quality batches.

“We have been asking our donors, vaccine manufacturers for months to give us better quality donations, and more line of sight and when doses will be received,” he said.

More than 7.8 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been injected around the world, according to an AFP count. 

In high-income countries, 146 doses have been administered per 100 people. In low-income nations, that figure drops to eight per 100. In Africa, the figure is 17 per 100.

Some have blamed the glaring inequity — giving the virus greater room for maneuver in poorer countries — for the emergence of the new Omicron variant of concern, first detected in southern Africa.

Africa and donated doses 

More than 90 million doses have been donated to Africa through international schemes.

But Covax and Africa’s similar home-grown scheme AVAT issued a joint statement this week spelling out further some of the difficulties faced with dose donations.

“The majority of the donations to date have been ad hoc, provided with little notice and short shelf lives. This has made it extremely challenging for countries to plan vaccination campaigns,” the statement said.

Dealing with such doses “exponentially magnifies the logistical burden on health systems that are already stretched,” it said.

The statement urged that as a standard from January 1, donated doses should have a minimum of 10 weeks’ shelf life and recipient countries should be given at least four weeks’ notice.

Doses should also come with the necessary syringes — not included with the majority of donations to date, the statement said.

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