In forecast of early availability of vaccines, initiative details initial doses to be distributed to facility participants in 2021
The COVAX program of the World Health Organization (WHO), which aims at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for every country in the world, on Wednesday announced the countries it would be provide with an initial limited volume of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with Pakistan slated to get 17.2 million doses.
According to an official statement, COVAX plans to provide sufficient doses to immunize around 3 percent of each recipient country’s population by the middle of the year. It said that distribution of the program’s initial 337.2 million doses was determined with regards to readiness to vaccinate; whether or not vaccination campaigns had already been initiated; and the assessment of risk to healthcare worker exposure.
The list provided by COVAX contains around 145 countries, with the organization stressing that the initial distribution is in line with a target “to protect the most vulnerable groups” in the first half of 2021. Noting that the vaccines would be provided in proportion to population size, it said India would receive 97.2 million doses; Pakistan 17.2 million; Nigeria 16 million; Indonesia 13.7 million; Bangladesh 12.8 million; and Brazil 10.6 million.
“We can start vaccinating. It is coming in the next weeks,” Ann Lindstrand, coordinator for WHO’s immunization program, told a press conference coinciding with the list publication.
Special Assistant to the P.M. on Health Dr. Faisal Sultan has already announced that Pakistan aims to inoculate frontline healthcare workers and at-risk elderly populations with the COVAX doses. He said that the country hoped to expand the vaccination campaign to the general public by the middle of the year after it had procured more supplies.
COVAX, co-led by WHO, the Gavi vaccine alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, has been funded through donations for 92 lower- and lower-middle income economies, while richer beneficiaries can avail it to buy vaccines in bulk as a back-up insurance policy. Among the self-financing countries listed are South Korea with 2.6 million doses; Canada with 1.9 million; and New Zealand with 250,000.
According to COVAX, its initial doses would be divided between the AztraZeneca-Oxford vaccine (240 million) licensed to the Serum Institute of India; AstraZeneca-Oxford (96 million); and Pfizer-BioNTech (1.2 million). Thus far, WHO has only granted emergency-use approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Both Pfizer and AstraZeneca require two injected doses for full inoculation.