The COVAX initiative for equitable global access to Covid-19 vaccines has announced its plan to distribute more than 330 million doses to developing nations in the first half of 2021.
In an interim distribution plan published Wednesday, the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility said the doses will cover an average of 3.3% of the total population of the 145 countries participating in the initial round of distribution.
The COVAX initiative was launched in April last year to ensure the rapid and equitable distribution of coronavirus vaccines to rich and poor countries alike and the vaccination of high-risk groups.
Led by the World Health Organization and numerous other international health groups, it has since been joined by 190 countries, but was shunned by the United States, partly because former President Donald Trump did not want to work with WHO.
The first round of distribution includes 336 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine -- 240 million made by the Serum Institute of India and 96 million by AstraZeneca -- as well as 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
But the plan is "non-binding and may be subject to change," with the actual allocation and distribution dependent on a series of caveats, from WHO's emergency use approval to the readiness of countries to receive and administer the vaccines, the document said.
Vaccine allocation: According to COVAX, the vaccines will be allocated to participating countries proportional to their population size. India, for example, will receive the highest amount -- 97 million doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India.
North Korea is also among the list, due to receive nearly 2 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine. Pyongyang claims the country has not contracted a single case of Covid-19 -- which experts say is likely untrue.
Some wealthy, self-financing countries were also included in the initial distribution plan, such as South Korea, Canada, New Zealand and Singapore.
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