Deutsche Bahn, Bankset test PV systems on railway in Germany    Misr Cement Group starts operating and maintaining its own factory in Qena    Kira Wal Gin movie breaks records at Egypt cinemas    Gold prices in Egypt on July 6    Egypt condolences Iran over recently earthquake – minister    Egypt introduces first beach for visually-impaired guests in Alexandria    Egypt's athlete Basma Emad wins bronze in weightlifting in Mediterranean Games    Egypt's Petrojet returns to Libyan oil sector after 11 years    Saudi citizens could enter Schengen countries visa-free    Cemex, VeryNile sign deal for Egypt's Nile River    Congo needs Egypt's expertise to diversify its economy – FPI official    Dostarlimab drug cures rectal cancer patient 100%, trials show    Egypt: A royal train turns into a new tourism attraction    For the first time John Legend to perform in Egypt    Noura Al-Mutair – first Gulf female boxer in World Championships    Liverpool fans: "You'll Never Walk Alone" to Cristiano Ronaldo    Egypt to play key role in integrating water, climate issues globally – World Bank official    Maha karara joins AAIB as Head of Corporate Communications, Sustainability    Egypt works on charting cooperation strategies with international institutions for 5 years: Al-Mashat    Over 2.4 million newborns examined for hearing impairment: Health Ministry    Netflix releases trailer of Arab adaption of 'Perfect Strangers' film    Balqees to headline concert celebrating launch of streaming giant LIVENow in MENA    Sawsan Badr to be honoured at Aswan Women Film Festival    MP Abdel Hady Al-Qasby calls government to facilitate and support NGOs    Al-Sisi follows up on 'Great Transfiguration Project' in St. Catherine    Cairo, London stress need to strengthen cooperation to face climate change    Foreigners account for 22.6% of Egypt's T-bills issuances in 1H 2021: CBE    Egypt's ambassador to Italy passes away    Egypt confirms readiness to help African countries face terrorism and extremism    An estimated 235 million people needed humanitarian assistance and protection in 2021, an increase of 40% compared to 2020: IOM Egypt    Egypt, DRC discuss water cooperation during WYF    Egypt, DR Congo discuss boosting bilateral cooperation during WYF    Cameroonian police probe assault on three Algerian journalists covering AFCON    Pharaohs start AFCON 2021 campaign with fierce clash against Nigeria    Foreign Ministry opens capacity building course for French-speaking African diplomats    Egypt's trade with Nile basin countries climbs 26% y-o-y in 9 months    Russia says it's in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban    It's a bit frustrating to draw at home: Real Madrid keeper after Villarreal game    Shoukry reviews with Guterres Egypt's efforts to achieve SDGs, promote human rights    Sudan says countries must cooperate on vaccines    Johnson & Johnson: Second shot boosts antibodies and protection against COVID-19    Egypt to tax bloggers, YouTubers    Egypt's FM asserts importance of stability in Libya, holding elections as scheduled    We mustn't lose touch: Muller after Bayern win in Bundesliga    Egypt records 36 new deaths from Covid-19, highest since mid June    Egypt sells $3 bln US-dollar dominated eurobonds    Gamal Hanafy's ceramic exhibition at Gezira Arts Centre is a must go    Italian Institute Director Davide Scalmani presents activities of the Cairo Institute for ITALIANA.IT platform    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.



Unwilling to wait, poorer countries seek their own vaccines
Published in Ahram Online on 06 - 02 - 2021

With coronavirus cases still climbing, Honduras got tired of waiting to get vaccines through a United Nations program, so the small Central American country struck out on its own, securing the shots through a private deal.
Honduras ``cannot wait on bureaucratic processes or misguided decisions`` to give citizens ``the peace of mind'' offered by the COVID-19 vaccine, said Juan Carlos Sikaffy, president of the Honduran Private Business Council, which helped complete the purchase by providing a bank guarantee.
Other nations are getting impatient too. Unlike past disease outbreaks, where less wealthy countries have generally waited for vaccines to be delivered by the UN and other organizations, many are now taking matters into their own hands. Experts are increasingly concerned that these go-it-alone efforts could undermine a UN-backed program to get COVID-19 shots to the neediest people worldwide.
Countries including Serbia, Bangladesh and Mexico recently began vaccinating citizens through donations or commercial deals _ an approach that could leave even fewer vaccines for the program known as COVAX, since rich countries have already snapped up the majority of this year's supply.
Led by the World Health Organization, a coalition for epidemic preparedness known as CEPI and a vaccine alliance called GAVI, COVAX was created to distribute COVID-19 vaccines fairly. Countries can join either to buy vaccines or to get donated shots.
Mustaqeem De Gama, a diplomat at the South African mission in Geneva, cited ``a level of desperation'' fueled by spreading virus variants and ``the uncertainty of when any COVAX vaccines might arrive.'' He doubted that countries that signed up for COVAX ''will even get 10% of what they require.''
Even if the effort succeeds, COVAX's stated goal is to vaccinate less than 30% of people in poor countries, meaning that governments must seek other sources to obtain enough shots to achieve herd immunity.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said his country was forced to cut its own deals after watching rich countries scramble for the scarce shots. He criticized nations that, he said, bought more doses than they needed.
``It's as if they intend to vaccinate all their cats and dogs,'' he said.
Although Serbia paid 4 million euros to COVAX last year, it has not yet received any shots and last month began its immunization campaign with vaccines from Pfizer, China's Sinopharm and Russia.
Recent manufacturing delays in Europe raise concerns about whether drugmakers will be able to fulfill the multiplying orders.
``There are so many deals being signed that I think it's hard to see how the numbers could possibly add up for all the doses ordered to actually be produced in the foreseeable future,'' said Amanda Glassman, a public health expert and executive vice-president of the Center for Global Development.
Last week, the African Union completed a deal for 400 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, to be produced by the Serum Institute of India. That's on top of a previously negotiated African Union deal for 270 million doses from several pharmaceutical companies and in addition to the 600 million doses Africa expects to receive from COVAX.
Some experts warn that these new deals could move COVAX further to the back of the line, especially if some countries are willing to pay a premium for speed.
To ensure South Africans got doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine quickly, government officials reluctantly agreed to pay a higher price per shot than Europe or North America. The first shipments arrived this week.
COVAX hopes to start sending its first vaccine batches to Africa later this month, but those plans are subject to change depending on manufacturers' production capacities and countries' immunization plans.
Mexico began vaccinating health workers in December because of a direct purchase agreement with Pfizer. In recent weeks, the country has been forced to turn to Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, which was expected to arrive next week, even though it has not been approved by Mexican regulators.
Kate Elder, senior vaccines policy adviser at Doctors Without Borders, said developing countries should not be criticized for securing private vaccine deals since that is precisely what rich countries did last year.
``Every country is just doing what it feels it needs to do to protect their people,'' she said, but the ability of poor countries and regions to get vaccine faster than COVAX could hurt future UN efforts.
``If countries are getting vaccines on their own, then how are WHO and GAVI delivering for them?'' she asked.
Although India is contracted to provide COVAX with several hundred million doses of vaccine, the shots have not yet been authorized by the WHO, meaning India cannot release them for the UN program. In the meantime, India has already gifted neighbors, including Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal, with more than 5 million doses.
Dr. Haritha Aluthge of Sri Lanka's Government Medical Officers' Association, called for the WHO to intervene amid the intense competition for vaccines and the failure of COVAX to deliver.
``Not a single dose (from COVAX) has been received,'' Aluthge said.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned recently that the world is on the brink of a ``catastrophic moral failure'' if COVID-19 vaccines are not distributed fairly, but the agency has no authority to force rich countries to share.
Its entreaties for countries to act in solidarity have mostly been ignored.
Norway is the only country that said it would send vaccines to developing countries as its own citizens are immunized, but it has not specified how many would be donated. Britain said it would not divert any vaccines until it finishes its own immunization program. Australia, which has mostly stamped out COVID-19, has no timeline for when it might share vaccines with its poorer neighbors in southeast Asia and the Pacific islands.
The unrelenting pressure on the world's vaccine supplies might only lift when more shots prove successful, said Krishna Udayakumar, director of the Duke Global Health Institute.
``COVAX is the only global, multilateral platform to enable something close to global access and equity, and yet, it has access to a relatively small amount of vaccines,'' he said. ``The only way out is to have more vaccines.''


Clic here to read the story from its source.