“In a pandemic, I would like to err by buying too many doses, rather than err on the side of not having enough doses, particularly as countries felt there were not enough doses to begin with,” Berkley said.
Rich countries, which ordered far more doses than they needed, have tried to dump their surpluses on COVAX, but COVAX has had trouble absorbing them.
COVAX began deliveries to developing countries in 2021, but the initial pace was slow. When the program finally had vaccines, the injections presented challenges that weak health systems were not well equipped to handle.
Frustrated by supply failures, some public health agencies did little to create demand for the vaccines, adding to a tide of misinformation that discouraged people from seeking them. Sub-Saharan Africa remains the least vaccinated region in the world. However, the covid mortality rates registered in the region have been low, which has further eroded interest in vaccines.
“We have so many offers for donations, but we don’t take them, because we don’t want them to expire here,” said Andrew Mulwa, who oversees the covid response at the Kenyan Ministry of Health. “We ask ourselves, do we need to continue spending money on COVID-19 vaccines when we have other glaring disparities?”
Gavi has a stockpile of vaccines and expects millions more in donations from high-income countries looking to dump their own surplus. The organization anticipates a peak demand of 450 million doses this year, half of what COVAX shipped in 2022.
Stephanie Nolen covers global health. She has written on public health, economic development, and humanitarian crises in more than 80 countries around the world. @snolen • Facebook
Rebecca Robbins joined the Times in 2020 as a business reporter with an emphasis on covid vaccines. Since 2015 she has been researching health and medicine issues. @RebeccaDRobbins
Source: NYT Español