MORE than 700 million Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered globally, but over 87 percent have gone to high-income or upper middle-income countries, while low-income countries have received just 0.2 percent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In a media briefing on April 9, 2021, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said 194 out of 220 countries have started vaccination against coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Of the 26 countries that have not, seven have received vaccines and could start anytime while five other countries were expected to receive their vaccines soon.

Ghebreyesus said the WHO, Gavi Vaccine Alliance, Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Unicef were working on several options for accelerating production and supply through the Covax facility.

As of April 7, more than 100 economies have received more than 38 million life-saving vaccines from Covax. The milestone comes 42 days after the first COVAX doses were shipped and delivered internationally, to Ghana on February 24th.

The Covax vaccines are being supplied by three manufacturers, AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech and the Serum Institute of India (SII).

Of the over 100 economies reached, 61 are among the 92 lower-income economies receiving vaccines funded through the Gavi Covax advance market commitment.

Covax expects to deliver doses to all participating economies that have requested vaccines in the first half of the year.

“In under four months since the very first mass vaccination outside a clinical setting anywhere in the world, it is tremendously gratifying that the roll-out of Covax doses has already reached one hundred countries,” said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

“Covax may be on track to deliver to all participating economies in the first half of the year yet we still face a daunting challenge as we seek to end the acute stage of the pandemic: we will only be safe when everybody is safe and our efforts to rapidly accelerate the volume of doses depend on the continued support of governments and vaccine manufacturers. As we continue with the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history, this is no time for complacency,” he added.

According to its latest supply forecast, Covax expects to deliver at least 2 billion doses of vaccines in 2021.

Covax is a global initiative to ensure that the vaccines are made available to both high-income and low-income countries. It is led by the CEPI, Gavi, WHO and Unicef. (SunStar Philippines from PR)