COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing program, is expected to have a shortfall of 140 million doses as a result of the ongoing coronavirus crisis in India, according to UNICEF, a partner with COVAX.
UNICEF said in a statement it had hoped to have delivered its 170 millionth dose of a Covid-19 vaccine this week, but undersupply from India — home to the Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine maker — has resulted in a “severe reduction” in vaccines available to the vaccine equity scheme.
“Among the global consequences of the situation in India, a global hub for vaccine production, is a severe reduction in vaccines available to COVAX. Soaring domestic demand has meant that 140 million doses intended for distribution to low- and middle-income countries through the end of May cannot be accessed by COVAX. Another 50 million doses are likely to be missed in June. This, added to vaccine nationalism, limited production capacity and lack of funding, is why the roll-out of COVID vaccines is so behind schedule," the statement says.
UNICEF warned that “cases are exploding and health systems are struggling in countries near — like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives — and far, like Argentina and Brazil.”
Ahead of a G7 meeting next month, it called on members and the "Team Europe" group of European Union Member States to donate 20% of their available supply over the summer, amounting to around 153 million doses.
UNICEF claimed those countries could do so while still meeting their commitments to domestic vaccination.
"While some G7 members have greater supply than others, and some have further advanced domestic rollouts, an immediate collective commitment to pool excess supply and share the burden of responsibility could buttress vulnerable countries against becoming the next global hotspot, it added. "Sharing immediately available excess doses is a minimum, essential and emergency stop-gap measure, and it is needed right now," the statement added.