A new analysis on the supply of vaccines in the UK, the European Union, Canada and Japan shows that rich nations could have a surplus of over one billion Covid-19 vaccine doses by December that is not marked as donations to poor nations.
The study by data analytics firm, Airfinity, shows vaccine stocks in Western countries has hit 500 million doses, out of which 360 million is not earmarked for sharing with poor countries.
“By the end of the year, these countries will have a potential of 1.2 billion surplus vaccine shots, with the overwhelming majority – 1.06 billion–not marked for donations,” it said.
Vaccine inequality has been denounced by many world leaders.
COVAX, the UN-backed global vaccine-sharing scheme had initially aimed to provide two billion vaccine doses to people in 190 countries this year, including 92 lower-income countries to ensure at least 20 per cent of their populations get the shot.
However, the wealthy countries’ deals with vaccine makers have limited the vaccines available under COVAX, leading to vaccine hoarding.
World Health Organization boss Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus told a meeting of the G20 health ministers that the global inequity of vaccines was “unacceptable.”
“Noting that more than five billion vaccines had been administered worldwide, he said almost 75 per cent of those doses had been administered in just 10 countries. Vaccination coverage in Africa was just 2 per cent,” he said.
Dr Ghebreyesus sentiments were shared by Dr John Nkengasong, the head of Africa CDC, who described the vaccine rollout on the continent as a “total disappointment.”
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown accused rich countries of committing a “moral outrage” by stockpiling COVID-19 doses while poor countries were struggling to get supplies.
Mr Brown, who is a UN special envoy, called on US President Joe Biden and other Group of Seven leaders to urgently ship vaccines from warehouses in America and Europe to Africa.
“We are in a new ‘arms’ race – to get vaccines into people as quickly as possible – but this is an arms race where the West has a stranglehold on the vaccine supplies,” Mr Brown said.
He added that stockpiling has also delayed dose-sharing by G7 countries with Africa and low-income countries.