Giving Compass' Take:
- Sigal Samuel explains why Covax, the fund to vaccinate the world, is only 3.4 percent of the way to its goal of sending out two billion doses worldwide this year.
- What can donors do to support global vaccine equity? What role are you prepared to play?
- Learn about vaccine nationalism.
What is Giving Compass?
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Early on in the pandemic, global health experts envisioned a nightmare scenario: Covid-19 vaccines are created, but they go almost exclusively to rich countries that can afford to buy them. People in poorer countries are left to get sick and die.
To prevent this, the experts set up an international initiative called Covax, designed to make sure every country in the world gets access to vaccines regardless of its ability to pay. In the fall of 2020, Covax set a clear goal: Buy 2 billion doses and make them available to nations in need before the end of 2021.
But we’re now nearly five months into the year, and Covax has delivered just over 68 million doses. In other words, it’s only 3.4 percent of the way to its goal.
The nightmare has become reality. Around 1.5 billion vaccine doses have been administered around the world — yet only 0.3 percent have gone to low-income countries. And in places like India and Brazil, thousands of unvaccinated people are dying every day of Covid-19, even as many Americans revel in their vaccinated status.
“People keep asking me, ‘What keeps you awake at night? The variants?’ Christ, no! It’s human behavior — the unwillingness to share!” said Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser at the World Health Organization (WHO) who works on Covax. “How do other people sleep at night? They should be so energized to fix this!”
If the epidemiologist and his colleagues at Covax have not managed to avert global vaccine inequity, it’s not for lack of trying. They’ve gotten lifesaving doses to 124 countries from Argentina to Zambia, and they’ve pushed wealthy countries to help them do more.
“Covax has been an essential tool. I think that’s pretty indisputable,” said Kate Dodson, the vice president for global health at the UN Foundation. But, she added, “They’re struggling right now.”
So what explains Covax’s struggles? What are the biggest obstacles getting in the way?
The experts I talked to identified three main problems: Money, vaccine supply, and global willingness to share have all been too constrained. But, the experts emphasized, these are solvable problems. And there are things everyday individuals can do to help.
Read the full article about Covax's struggles by Sigal Samuel at Vox.