UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, has urged G7 countries to donate excess supplies of COVID-19 vaccines;to the global COVAX sharing scheme as an emergency measure to address a severe shortfall;following a restriction on vaccine exports from India.
UNICEF, which is in charge of supplying coronavirus vaccines through COVAX, estimates;“the supply shortfall will reach 140 million doses by the end of May and about 190 million by;the end of June.”
Speaking to the issue, Fore noted;that sharing vaccines with COVAX could help prevent vulnerable countries from becoming the next global hotspot.
“Sharing immediately available excess doses is a minimum, essential and emergency stop-gap measure, and it is needed right now.”
Citing new research from scientific information and analytics company, Airfinity, she added;that G7 countries could donate about 153 million doses if they shared;only 20 percent of their available supply over June, July and August.
“This could be;done while still meeting commitments to vaccinate their own populations.”
COVAX, run jointly by the WHO and the GAVI vaccine alliance, relies heavily on the AstraZeneca vaccine. The jab accounts for the bulk of the vaccines earmarked;for early rollout as COVAX seeks to provide two billion doses this year.
UNICEF also revealed that other manufacturing limitations outside India had also slowed;the supply of COVAX doses but those delays are expected to be resolved by;the end of June.
“Moral catastrophe” of vaccine inequity
UNICEF’s appeal comes ahead of a G7 to be;held in Britain in June. The United States and Canada, both members of the group, are among the countries that have authorized vaccines for those aged 12 and above in recent weeks.
Earlier, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus condemned the “moral catastrophe” of vaccine inequity, urging wealthy countries to donate doses rather than use them for children who are less vulnerable to this severe disease.
“I understand why some countries want to vaccinate their children and adolescents, but right now I urge them to reconsider and to instead donate vaccines to COVAX.
“In low and lower-middle-income countries, COVID-19 vaccine supply has not been enough to even immunize healthcare workers, and hospitals are being inundated with people that need lifesaving care urgently.”
Tedros also intimated;that the second year of the pandemic was set to be;more deadly than the first, with India a huge concern.
“Saving lives and livelihoods with a combination of public health measures and vaccination – not one or the other – is the only way out.”
WHO officials also urged caution in lifting measures that contain the transmission, such as mask-wearing, and warned;that more variants were bound to be detected.
This warning came as a result of a new directive by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which stated that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear masks outdoors and could avoid wearing them indoors in most places.