COVID-19 vaccine supply outstrips demand

FRANCE: After two years of racing to vaccinate the world against COVID-19, the number of available doses now surpasses demand in many areas.

Yet a yawning gap remains in vaccination rates between the richest and poorest countries.

On Friday, Gavi, which co-leads the Covax global distribution scheme, held a summit calling for more funds to address the issue of inequality in vaccine access. More than 13 billion doses have been produced since the pandemic, 11 billion of which have been administered, according to the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA). Science research group Airfinity expect nine billion more doses to be produced this year. Pfizer alone plans to make four billion doses.

Yet demand could fall to six billion doses this year, IFPMA’s director general Thomas Cueni said. Airfinity says 241 million doses have passed their sell-by date so far during the pandemic.

Nevertheless, billions of people remain unvaccinated around the world, most of them in developing nations.

Covax, an international public-private partnership co-led by WHO and Gavi, has delivered 1.4 billion doses to 145 countries — far short of the planned two billion doses by end-2021.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that inequality in vaccine access could lead to the emergence of new, possibly more contagious variants. The WHO wants 70 percent of every country’s population vaccinated by July.

Nearly 80 percent of France’s population, for example, has received two doses. But only 15 percent of the population on the continent of Africa is fully vaccinated, according to Oxford University data.

An average of 42 percent of the population of 92 low- and middle-income countries participating in Covax have had two doses. Countries like South Africa and India have long called for the World Trade Organization to suspend intellectual property rights for vaccines and anti-COVID treatments, so they can massively boost production.

After fierce opposition from pharmaceutical giants, a first compromise was reached between the United States, European Union, India and South Africa last month. On Wednesday, the EU’s medicines watchdog approved a second booster for people aged 80 years and over. “No country can boost its way out of the pandemic,” Tedros has warned.


by Daily News Sri Lanka

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