The COVAX global alliance, created a few months ago with the aim that vaccines also reach the least developed countries, tries to gain a foothold while the richest countries fight with pharmaceutical companies over who is receiving more doses.
One such example is South Africa, which is paying 4 euros and 32 cents for each dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, two and a half times more than the price set for European countries.
For Winnie Byanyima, UNAIDS Executive Director, “It is vaccine apartheid. It is discrimination. It is really shameful. Rich countries argue among themselves about who is going to get what allowance, and other countries sit and watch, it is a shame “.
COVAX main donors
COVAX is a global association that combines different governments, public sector institutions and private entities. Its headquarters are in Geneva and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is one of its main founders. Until now has received more than 1.6 billion euros of financing. Although the EU has donated € 96 million from its own fund, the largest donors are the UK government and Canada. During Trump’s term, the United States remained on the sidelines but Biden has already affirmed that his government will contribute 3.3 billion euros.
However, COVAX will need a total of 29,000 million euros to pay for the 2,000 million doses it has purchased from 5 vaccine producers. The World Health Organization sees it very difficult to administer all vaccines in 92 countries before the end of 2021.
“Bilateral agreements between countries and companies are putting the promise of COVAX at risk. At least 56 bilateral agreements on vaccines have been signed that fragment the market, force countries to compete and drive up prices,” says Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization.
Meanwhile, European countries are struggling to meet their goal of vaccinating 70% of the population by summer. But the latest events related to the delay and reduction of vaccines to the EU by pharmaceutical companies like AstraZeneca could uncoordinate the vaccination strategy.
“I think that qualifying COVAX as a colonialist, when saying that we give the vaccines that we have left over, is a naive description of the real world. Because otherwise these countries could never dispose of the vaccines in an adequate, fast and timely way”, Jacob F Kirkegaard, researcher at the German Marshall Fund
Group immunity in reference to COVID 19 requires that 70% of the population be vaccinated. But for the moment COVAX will only be able to inoculate 1,000 million people of the almost 8,000 that populate the planet.