The COVAX initiative was launched in April of last year to ensure rapid and equitable distribution of Coronavirus vaccines to rich and poor countries alike and vaccination of high-risk groups.
Led by the World Health Organization and many other international health groups, 190 countries have joined since then, but the United States rejected it, in part because former President Donald Trump did not want to work with the WHO.
The first round of distribution includes 336 million doses of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine – 240 million produced by the Serum Institute in India and 96 million by AstraZeneca – as well as 1.2 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
But the document said that the plan is “non-binding and may be subject to change,” with the actual distribution and distribution being based on a series of warnings, from the approval of the World Health Organization for emergency use to the readiness of countries to receive vaccines and administer them.
Dale Fischer, an infectious disease specialist at the National University of Singapore, said the tentative outlook will allow countries to initiate their own immunization strategies, including storage, distribution, databases and how to address vaccine frequency.
“If they know that some doses will come in the next month or two, it is time to start preparing everything,” he said.
Currently, both vaccines in the COVAX initiative require two doses to provide complete immunity. Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine should be stored at minus 75 degrees Celsius, or minus 103 degrees Fahrenheit. In comparison, AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine can be kept at refrigerator temperatures of 2 ° C to 8 ° C (36 ° F to 46 ° F) for at least six months, which makes transportation and distribution much easier, especially in developing countries that lack cold storage capacity. .
But the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the only one to date to have received WHO approval for emergency use. The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is currently being evaluated.
Delivery of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is expected to start in late February, if all requirements are met, according to the allocation plan.
“We will soon be able to start offering life-saving vaccines globally, an outcome that we know is essential if we are to have any chance of beating this pandemic,” said Seth Berkeley, CEO of the GAVI Alliance, who believes. Vaccines for poor countries and with the World Health Organization, is one of the participants in the initiative.
North Korea is also on the list, due to receiving 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 self-financed wealthy nations were also included in the initial distribution plan, such as South Korea, Canada, New Zealand and Singapore.
COVAX aims to deliver up to 2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccine to least developed countries by the end of this year, enough to vaccinate more than 20% of the population of its member states.
But there have long been questions about whether it can achieve this goal, due to challenges in obtaining adequate financing and supplies.
Given the unprecedented scale of the vaccine project, it is bound to face some setbacks, said Fisher, an expert at the National University of Singapore.
“I don’t think you would be surprised if there were some communication malfunctions, some expectations not being met, and a little competition and financing issues,” he said.
“Because it’s just a colossal measure of hundreds of millions – then billions – of doses trying to get to the arms of 8 billion people during a pandemic. It’s really complicated.”
Additional report from Reuters.