COVAX programme faces five challenges

Staff Reporter

The aim of the UN-backed COVAX scheme is to get two billion vaccine doses into the arms of around a quarter of the population of poorer countries by the end of 2021; however, some main challenges need to be overcome if this historic global effort is to be achieved.

Here are five things to know about the challenges facing COVAX, and how they can be overcome.

First is export controls. Early on in the pandemic, UNICEF built up a stockpile of half a billion syringes in warehouses outside the countries producing them.

Its foresight paid off: countries put export controls on syringes, prices spiked, and supplies were limited.

Several countries also placed export controls on vaccines, prompting WHO to warn against “vaccine nationalism”, which encourages hoarding, and has the effect of pushing prices up and ultimately prolonging the pandemic, the restrictions needed to contain it, and human and economic suffering.