The COVAX initiative, which was formed to ensure fair access to vaccines in low-income and middle-income countries, has been hampered by the severely limited global supply of doses and logistical problems.
When Raab said the day the first vaccinations provided by COVAX were given to people off the Ivory Coast, Raab said, “we understand the mystery they feel.” He said, however, that countries should consider advice from researchers and the World Health Organization on which vaccines are safest.
Raab said that COVAX “is the gold standard for international support for the most vulnerable countries around the world. And I think they should be ambitious to get their people vaccinated according to that gold standard. ”
Although it aims to deliver at least 2 billion shots this year, COVAX currently only has legally binding agreements for hundreds of millions of doses, and far fewer than it has delivered. So far, about 500,000 doses have been delivered to Ivory Coast and 600,000 to Ghana.
The head of the World Health Organization said on Monday that it was “regrettable” that younger and healthier adults in some rich countries are being vaccinated against coronavirus ahead of vulnerable health workers in developing countries.
At a news conference on Monday, Tedro’s Adhanom Ghebreyesus said vaccinations from UN-backed COVAX have begun in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, but lamented that this only happened three months after countries such as Britain, the United States and Canada began vaccinating their own populations.
“Countries do not fight with each other,” he said. “This is a common race against the virus. We are not asking countries to endanger their own people. We ask all countries to be part of a global effort to suppress the virus everywhere. ”
The UK vaccination program is the fastest in Europe with so far more than 20 million people, almost a third of the population. receiving the first of their two doses. Britain also has Europe’s deadly outbreak, with more than 123,000 people confirmed victims in the pandemic.
The UK government has promised to provide “the majority of any future surplus vaccines” to the COVAX effort, but has not said when that surplus may become available.
Raab said the domestic vaccination program had gone “better than expected … So we hope to be able to be aware of that over time.”
He said the ambitious COVAX goal of delivering jabs to the most vulnerable people in 92 countries by June was achievable.
“It is feasible, but we need to galvanize the effort, the will, the logistics on the ground,” he said. “We need this to be a whole team effort.”
Maria Cheng in London contributed to this story.
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