Next shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines from COVAX delayed
Guyana’s next shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility – a global mechanism that was created to ensure the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines – has been delayed, the Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, revealed on Thursday.
COVAX’s shipment to Guyana of 38,000 doses of the vaccine should have arrived mid-June but according to Dr. Anthony, the government received a letter from the facility informing of the delay.
He said the delay should be resolved soon with the shipment expected in early July; a specific date is yet to be revealed. The Health Minister did not pinpoint a reason for the delay, however, an article published by the Associated Press on Thursday outlined that COVAX is scaling back its vaccine supply forecast for 2021 by more than “100 million doses.”
According to the article, the shortfall comes because the Serum Institute of India – a pivotal producer of vaccines for COVAX – has reverted supplies to needy people in India, as the country battles a significant spike in COVID-119 infections.
COVAX has reportedly only distributed about 90 million doses, far short of its original plans. Further, the article pointed out that Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, now projects that the COVAX program can supply just under 1.9 billion doses this year down from original targets of more than 2 billion doses. That number also includes about 1.2 billion provided for free to 92 poor countries.
In the meantime, Dr. Anthony pointed out that the government has been working with the African Union, a continental union consisting of 55 member states located on the continent of Africa, to procure a shipment of Johnson and Johnson vaccines.
These have already been paid for and a date for the shipment’s arrival is yet to be announced. Additionally, he said another 100,000 doses of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine is expected by July to further boost the government’s ongoing vaccination drive.
Amid the pandemic, COVAX emerged as the global effort between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI); Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) created with an ambitious mandate of ensuring equitable distribution of vaccines.