A shipment of 600,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses landed in Ghana on Wednesday, kicking off a global effort to supply 2 billion shots to countries that risk being nudged aside by wealthy nations who secured early doses from drugmakers.
COVAX is led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
The point of the program is to work with manufacturers and make vaccine distribution is equitable and the virus is controlled worldwide. Over 90 low and middle-income countries will receive vaccines as part of the campaign.
“We will not end the pandemic anywhere unless we end it everywhere,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “Today is a major first step towards realizing our shared vision of vaccine equity, but it’s just the beginning.”
The U.S. and European nations have delivered tens of millions of shots into their citizens but there are 130 countries that haven’t even started, according to the U.N.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently said progress in vaccinating for COVID-19 had been “wildly uneven and unfair.”
The Trump administration eschewed COVAX because of its ties to the WHO but President Biden recently committed $4 billion to the effort.
Planes carried doses to Accra, Ghana, from Mumbai via Dubai, where the flights gathered up syringes from a Gavi-funded stockpile.
“We still have a lot of work to do with governments and manufacturers to ensure that vaccination of health workers and older people is underway in all countries within the first 100 days of this year,” Mr. Tedros said.