oyebanji1_TONY KARUMBAAFP via Getty Images_covax delivery Tony Karumba/AFP via Getty Images

COVAX Is Our Best Chance to Beat COVID

The worrying global imbalance in COVID-19 vaccine distribution could hold back Africa’s recovery and prolong the pandemic worldwide. Governments need to unite behind the COVAX global vaccine-access facility now, and the scheme itself should focus more on African needs.

LONDON – The first vaccine deliveries by the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) facility to Ghana, Nigeria, and Ivory Coast brought a glimmer of hope to African countries keen to start immunizing their populations against the disease. But while COVAX is ramping up deliveries, its mission to provide rapid, fair, and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines to people everywhere is being threatened by rich countries ordering more than they need. This worrying global imbalance in vaccine distribution could hold back Africa’s recovery and prolong the pandemic worldwide.

COVAX is the world’s best opportunity to avoid this scenario. Never before has the entire global population simultaneously needed a vaccine against the same disease, and COVAX is enabling remarkable collaboration to meet the challenge, bringing together governments, global health organizations, the private sector, scientists, and many other partners to develop, manufacture, and deliver vaccines.

We will ultimately measure the success of this unprecedented undertaking over several years, if not decades. But COVAX is already on track to deliver two billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to countries of all income levels in 2021, and has the world’s most diverse and actively managed vaccine research-and-development portfolio. The goal is to ensure that the most vulnerable populations receive COVID-19 vaccines by the end of this year.

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