Quarter of the world may not access COVID-19 vaccine until 2022

pharmafile | December 16, 2020 | News story | Research and Development COVID-19, Vaccine 

Almost a quarter of the world’s population may not have access to a COVID-19 vaccine until 2022, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal.

Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said that high-income countries have already reserved billions of doses of vaccines, meaning access for middle and low-income countries is precarious.

They wrote in the BMJ: “High-income countries, including the European Union bloc, have reserved 51% of these doses, or around 3.85 billion doses, though they comprise only 13.7% of the world’s population.

“Of the 13 manufacturers, only six have sold to low and middle-income countries.”

According to the study, AstraZeneca-Oxford University and Novavax are among the six manufacturers.

With high-income countries securing over half of the available vaccine doses, middle and low-income countries will be left to bid for what doses remain – despite making up around 85% of the global population. The experts warned that even if manufacturers met their maximum production capacity, almost a quarter of the world’s population would still not have access to a COVID-19 vaccine by 2022.

The researchers said: “By the end of 2021 up to 40% of COVID-19 vaccine courses from leading manufacturers might potentially remain for low and middle-income countries – less if high-income countries scale up existing purchases, more if these countries share what they have procured.

“Even if these leading manufacturers were all to succeed in reaching their projected maximum production capacity, nearly a quarter of the world’s population would not have access to a vaccine until at least 2022.”

COVAX, launched by the World Health Organisation during the pandemic, is an initiative that works to ensure all countries are given equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. At least 77 wealthy states, including the UK, Japan, and Norway, have signed up to the scheme.

According to the researchers behind the BMJ study, COVAX has so far purchased 300 million vaccine doses from AstraZeneca-Oxford University, and a further 200 million from either the AstraZeneca-Oxford partnership, or Novavax. Despite this, the experts have warned that these purchases only amount to a quarter of COVAX’s 2021 goal of at least two billion doses.

Darcy Jimenez

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