COVAX counts on dose-sharing to counter vaccine crunch, vaccine diplomacy makes it worse

DOSE-SHARING: THE PLAN B FOR COVAX THAT RESTS ON BENEVOLENCE

In December 2020, Gavi spelt out the COVAX principles on dose-sharing for COVID-19 vaccines. Authorities had hoped that countries who had bought more doses than they require would be amenable to sharing the doses through the COVAX Facility. This was, what now seems like a far less challenging time, before the emergence of the variants, subsequent waves of the pandemic, vaccine shortages, export bans and legal threats between countries and manufacturers.

Not only has the situation exacerbated, unforeseen supply challenges have emerged for the COVAX facility in the context of the resurgence of COVID-19 in India. So even as COVAX has already paid a price for bilateral deals and relying on too few manufacturers in the acute phase of this disease, dose-sharing has emerged as an option to meet some of the shortfall in its supplies. This is concerning since we have seen that benevolence of high and upper middle income countries have not effectively contributed to alleviating shortages. In addition, countries continue to give away doses bilaterally to secure the gains from vaccine diplomacy. No one wants to be left behind, especially when catching up with the diplomacy efforts of China and Russia that have already won key friends in the developing world.

Image credit: Photo by Artem Podrez from Pexels

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