Wellcome Trust is calling on G7 leaders to share 1 billion vaccine doses before the end of 2021, starting immediately.
They are calling on the G7 to collectively commit to sharing 1 billion vaccine doses before the end of 2021, starting immediately, in parallel to their national rollout programmes and scaling up as more of their domestic populations are protected. Alongside this, it is crucial that they fully fund the ACT-Accelerator.
Some G7 members have already started to commit doses, which is a positive step, but not with the urgency and scale required to end the pandemic.
Of the 155 million doses that have been committed, less than 150,000 have been shared with COVAX to reach the people who need them. COVAX is facing an urgent shortfall of 190 million doses by the end of June. We need leaders to commit more and commit to timeframes for the delivery.
Most importantly, sharing doses will help to alleviate immediate supply challenges – the reality is that COVAX has currently only rolled out doses for around 1% coverage in the countries it supports. It won’t reach its target of 23% in all countries this year unless governments who have bought up much of the supply step in to help.
Tedros Adhanom, Director General, World Health Organization said, “There is no diplomatic way to say it: a small group of countries that make and buy the majority of the world’s vaccines control the fate of the rest of the world.”
Dose sharing will help COVAX stay on track despite the huge supply problems it has faced. Sharing 1 billion doses will mean that we can protect the 716 million vulnerable people around the world including healthcare workers and the elderly, many of whom are without access currently, while younger, less at-risk groups in wealthy countries are able to access vaccination.
Equitable access to vaccines will have the biggest impact on tackling the pandemic this year, which is why we are calling on leaders from G7 countries to commit to sharing 1 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses at the G7 summit this June.
For some it has felt like the end of the pandemic is within its grasp due to highly successful vaccination rollouts and access to tests and treatments. But for much of the world the pandemic is raging on, and perhaps is just getting started. By the time the G7 leaders meet, it is expected that the death toll for 2021 will overtake that of the entirety of 2020.
The current state of Covid-19 vaccine access
Covid-19 vaccine access is currently far from equitable. The G7 have purchased over a third of the world’s vaccine supply, despite making up only 13% of the global population.
For example, G7 countries have distributed 528 million doses(opens in a new tab)
so far across their population of 610 million people. The whole of Africa, with twice as many people, has distributed just 34 million. To put it into further context, the rate of vaccination in high-income countries is 75 times that of low-income countries.
The crisis in India has only exacerbated this access inequity as the Serum Institute has had to reduce its shipments to COVAX by more than half. With almost all this year’s vaccine manufacturing capacity spoken for, the only way to get vaccines to those that need them around the world is for countries that have purchased more vaccines than they need to share them now.