All across the world, different nations have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. But this December, a clear path out of the pandemic presented itself as different countries developed vaccines for the coronavirus. At the beginning of this month, the only available vaccine doses were for the Sinopharm Chinese vaccine. The AstraZeneca vaccine developed by Britain’s Oxford University and AstraZeneca came a few days later. Also, Russia rushed to make a vaccine of their own and succeeded. But now, the U.S and the European Union have the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
The COVAX Initiative
Britons, Americans, and even Canadians have approved the newly developed Pfizer vaccine to treat the coronavirus. Using Pfizer, these nations expect to achieve herd immunization of their populations. Thus, the countries have launched their mass vaccination programs this month as they perceive reaching herd immunization will take many months. Developing countries, especially in Africa, however, have raised worries that the wealthy western countries developing these vaccines might leave them for dead.
Most developing countries placed all their hopes with the COVAX initiative to help them acquire vaccines. The World Health Organization started COVAX with the vaccines alliance CEPI and GAVI, a global coalition to fight epidemics. The organizations created the COVAX initiative to prevent an international stampede for vaccines when a vaccine would be available. The initiative would ensure that the entire world would have access to COVID-19 vaccines by sharing them fairly amongst all nations.
But some of the wealthy nations, some of which funded research needed to acquire a vaccine with taxpayer money, continue to buy up nearly all the vaccines available. Because of this, COVAX is finding it hard to secure the COVID-19 vaccines required for circulation. Poorer countries that signed up for the COVAX initiative fear they will be left stranded. Due to this, most of these nations have begun looking for alternatives as the organization won’t deliver.
Developing Nations Begin Looking for Vaccine Doses Elsewhere
Some developing countries have decided to pull out of the deal with COVAX completely. For instance, Palau announced this month that it would abandon COVAX and get vaccines from the United States instead. Low and middle-income countries like Peru, Malaysia, and Bangladesh, on the other hand, have chosen to stay in the initiative. They have, however, struck other deals with drug makers as a Plan B.
Another developing country, Morocco, expects to start the mass immunization operation in mid-December. The nation has decided on utilizing the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine. Morrroco plans on performing mass immunization, with priority going to medical staff and other front line workers and the elderly. On the other hand, Nigeria states it expects to receive its first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in January. Nigerians, however, still don’t know which vaccine they will be getting.
Nigeria has decided to continue working closely with the COVAX program to be able to acquire enough vaccines. But the country is still holding talks with vaccine manufacturers in Britain, Russia, and even the United Arab Emirates to help them acquire more ultra-cold freezers that can store the Pfizer/BioNTech shot. The Pfizer shot need to be kept at minus 70 Celsius, and Nigeria does not have many facilities that offer this condition. Nigerian Health Minister Osagie Ehanire told reporters that the country aims to secure a vaccine that works well and has a good storage and delivery cost.