Since the arrival of the Coronavirus vaccine, while the developed countries showed positive outcomes, the poorer countries are still struggling with the deadly pandemic.
Among the poor countries, African countries, along with some Asian nations, have a hard time controlling the spread of infection.
This is translating into spiking numbers in the African nations.
Despite the involvement of COVAX in the matter, the logistics problems are straining the situation.
According to reports, after five weeks of the vaccine’s arrival in Chad, Chad’s premier said that only 6,000 doses of the vaccines were used, and the rest remained unused.
Similarly, in Benin, the government has been able to use only 267 doses daily out of 200,000 doses, exposing vaccines to the risk of expiry.
COVAX Falling Victim to Poor Logistics Chains
In January 2021, the United States of America, along with the world’s richest countries, initiated a global vaccination program under one umbrella to ensure the provision of COVID-19 vaccines to the entirety, named COVAX.
For buying, delivery efforts, and leading the program, the two Gates-funded foundations, Gavi and the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), WHO, and UNICEF, were chosen, and officially, the program embarked on its operations in African countries in April.
Through this program, Gavi aims to collect at least $7.4 billion for its 2021 to 2025 investment for the provision of COVID-19 vaccines to low-income countries.
According to the Gavi official reports, many countries have started funding the program, and many have promised to put their parts in the program, including $1.6 billion by the government of the United States, $1 billion by Norway, $600 million by Canada, $150 million by Saudi Arabia, $30 million by Switzerland, and so on.
A group of officials from the COVAX program said that the authorities are continuously working on the buying and transportation of the vaccines to poor nations in Africa and Asia, but the supply chain is confronting unexpected problems.
Rich and Poor Divide, Making COVAX Prone to Failure
The rich countries have become rivals in the vaccination purchasing race, paying higher rates to vaccine manufacturers to secure their own doses of vaccines, which has made the supply of the vaccines to COVAX slow and problematic.
According to Kate Elder, senior policy advisor for Doctors Without Borders, rich nations pledged donations, but they didn’t make obliging partners.
England negotiated for wealthier participants to be given the choice of vaccines to buy through the COVAX alliance, which created delays.
The COVAX alliance also planned to reach the Serum Institute for the delivery of coronavirus vaccines. But after the surge of Delta variant in India, the group had already been working on the supply of vaccines to the Indian government.
In addition to the slow supply of vaccines, most of the African countries also have issues with the transport and storage of vaccines.
The vaccines, especially AstraZeneca, need to be stored at ultra-low temperatures. However, the vaccination centers are lacking freezers for storage and insufficient transport sources to securely transport the vaccines to the needed places.
The authorities have focused only on the purchasing of the vaccines, triggering the scarcity of transportation and insufficiently trained employees crises that are big hurdles in the way of the immunization of poor countries.
By December 2021, more than 1.7 billion doses of Coronavirus vaccines are expected to be delivered to poor countries, which can somehow dilute the persisting crisis.
According to experts, COVAX officials should not only ensure the continuous supply of vaccines but also resolve the issues of transportation, storage, and insufficiently trained staff.
Dr. Alakija, a leading African delivery efforts official, said that in mid-2020, the COVAX alliance initially set a target of vaccinating 20% of the African nations. The target itself was an underestimated one. However, to date, not even a fraction of the target has been achieved.
While some of the blame is also credited to the COVID-skeptic governments, however, the inept strategy is also worsening these crises.
He further said that currently, they have enough money to purchase desperately needed vaccines for 30% of the 17 poorest countries.
The COVAX alliance has made new deals with Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna to provide doses of Covid-19 vaccines at a low price range.
But behind the scenes, the negotiations between COVAX and Pfizer are entangled.
According to the New York Times, two people familiar with the matter said that The Pfizer Company wants to send the new shots of vaccines to African countries first, but the bid of wealthier nations is strong, as they want to fill up their vaccine banks first, as the virus penetrates the global nations.
The international body supposed to protect the global nations has become a tool of the rich now.
The crisis is emerging at an alarming time when the new variants are at their most vulnerable to create devastation.
Going ahead, the rich nations would need more doses, as many vaccine makers have started recommended the third dose to bolster immunity if the already vaccinated people.
So, the developed nations would definitely introduce the cuts in the COVAX shares.
No one is safe until everyone is safe in this pandemic, so this ignorance can trigger global destruction.
The new vaccine-resistant variants are already in the market, which is a fair sign to worry for the developed world as well.
Most of these variants are due to inefficient vaccination efforts, so this situation can be tackled through better administrative means.
This pandemic has unveiled the dark side of social stratification as the tussle to grasp vaccine doses continue.
If the situation continues, as usual, it is only a matter of time that the pandemic will outbreak in the developed nations once again, despite the abundance of vaccinated people.
The who world is in the crisis together, and devising an all-inclusive strategy is the only way out of this crisis.