India’s catastrophic coronavirus outbreak has now sent lethal reverberations to Africa, where countries are relying on Indian-made vaccines through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access program known as COVAX.
The World Economic Forum warned that Africa, which already has the world’s slowest vaccine rollout, with just 2 percent of the entire population inoculated, risked being left vulnerable to a wave of new variants as the virus mutates unchecked across the continent due to vaccine shortfalls caused by India’s crisis.
Globally, 150 doses per 1,000 people have been put into arms. In Africa, just eight doses per 1,000 people have been administered. And with India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, now unable to meet vaccine export demands meant for the COVAX program in Africa, that number could drop even further.
Around 140 million doses of vaccines intended to be distributed to low-income countries in Africa through COVAX were missed in May. “Another 50 million doses are likely to be missed in June,” Henrietta Fore, the director of UNICEF, said in a statement. “We are concerned that the deadly spike in India is a precursor to what will happen if those warnings remain unheeded. While the situation in India is tragic, it is not unique.”
Taiwan, too, is in the midst of a devastating second wave after having largely skirted the brunt of the first wave. But variants have taken hold there, and anticipated vaccines through COVAX—again produced in India—have not arrived. Now the country is grappling with how to divvy up 300,000 doses on hand for a population that exceeds 24 million and whether they should save second doses or just get as many people a first dose as possible. Just 1 percent of the population is fully inoculated.
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