As many as 60 countries, including some of the world’s poorest, might have their first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine stalled as nearly all deliveries through the global initiative are blocked until as late as June.
COVAX, the programme set up to provide the vaccine to low-income countries, has shipped more than 25,000 doses only twice a week on any given day, but deliveries have all but halted since Monday, AP reports.
According to daily data compiled by UNICEF, during the past two weeks, fewer than 2 million COVAX doses were clear to be shipped to 92 countries – the same amount that administered in Britain alone.
While the vaccine shortage is due mainly to India’s decision to stop exporting vaccines from its Serum Institute Factory, which produces the majority of the worlds Oxford/AstraZeneca doses, the head of the World Health Organization criticised the “shocking imbalance” in global Covid-19 vaccination output.
However, as COVAX only ships vaccines cleared by the WHO, which currently are Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioTech and Jonhson & Johnson, it is prompting the WHO to consider speeding up its endorsement of vaccines from China and Russia, which have not been authorised in Europe or North America.
China’s Covid-19 vaccines output could reach more than 3bn doses by the end of 2021, a National Health Commission official said on Saturday.
Reuters reports that Zheng Zhongwei, who also heads a team coordinating the country’s vaccine development projects, made the comment at an industry event in the city of Chengdu.
India records more than 100,000 daily cases again this week
India records 145,384 new Covid-19 cases on Saturday and 794 deaths, the highest number of deaths in more than five months as the country deals with a deadly second wave of infections, Reuters reports.
The country’s overall caseload has increased to 13.21 million, the third-highest globally, behind the US and Brazil, recording 100,000 new cases on Monday and four more times after that.
Maharashtra, the Indian state with the highest number of cases, is imposing a weekend lockdown until Monday, after having already shut down restaurants, malls and places of worship.
As the government blames the resurgence mainly on crowding and a reluctance to wear masks, many states have complained about the shortage of vaccines.