MONDAY, Sept. 13, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Fewer COVID-19 vaccine doses than expected will be available through the global COVAX program, affecting many less-affluent nations waiting on these doses.
The United Nations forecast last week that it would have about 25 percent fewer vaccines to distribute through COVAX this year -- 1.4 billion compared with an earlier projection for 1.9 billion doses, The New York Times reported. Both numbers are far smaller than the 11 billion doses experts have recommended to slow the spread of COVID-19. While COVAX had planned to deliver 785 million doses by now, it has actually delivered 245 million. Most were free to poorer nations, with the rest to countries like Canada that paid for their doses.
The setback was attributed, in part, to uncertainty about when a major vaccine manufacturing site in India would resume exports, The Times reported. Other contributors include problems stepping up production of the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, as well as delayed approval of one from Novavax.
"COVAX is making strenuous efforts to address and mitigate these risks," the program said. According to The Times, those efforts included talks with the Indian government, which halted vaccine exports in the spring, and urging manufacturers to not prioritize individual countries over COVAX.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization asked wealthy nations to hold off until year's end on giving booster shots to healthy individuals.
An estimated 0.4 percent of COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in low-income countries so far. About 81 percent of doses have been given in high- and upper-middle-income countries, according to the University of Oxford Our World in Data project.