The World Health Organization’s Director-General has said that the global increase in COVID-19 cases has hindered the global vaccine supply. The Serum Institute of India will need to “get back on track and catch up” on its delivery commitments to COVAX, the global initiative to supply coronavirus vaccines to nations around the world, according to WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
During a daily virtual press briefing on Monday, the World Health Organization Director-General said that the global surge in COVID-19 cases has compromised the global vaccine supply, with a shortage of 190 million doses of COVAX expected by the end of June.
COVAX, the “global COVID vaccine equity scheme,” has so far delivered 65 million doses to 124 countries and economies, but its success is contingent on countries and manufacturers fulfilling their commitments. “Once the devastating outbreak in India subsides, we also need the Serum Institute of India to get back on track and meet its COVAX delivery commitments,” Ghebreyesus said. A severe reduction in vaccines available to COVAX is one of the global consequences of the situation in India, a global hub for vaccine production.
The UNICEF statement stated in a note to editors that “shortfall numbers are based on delays related to shipments from the Serum Institute of India (SII) only.” Other delays associated with the original COVAX delivery schedule are expected to be resolved by the end of June. The note also stated that at this time, there is no timetable for resolving SII-related delays.
SII CEO Adar Poonawalla stated earlier this month that because vaccine manufacturing is a specialized process, it is not possible to ramp up production overnight. The SII has received orders from the Government of India totaling more than 26 crore doses, of which more than 15 crore doses have been supplied. Amid vaccine shortage in the country, Poonawalla defended vaccine export and said never exported at the cost of people of India. SII maintained its stand that the export happenned when daily cases were at “all-time low” in India.
In the wake of vaccine shortage, US President Joe Biden has announced that the United States will collaborate with the WHO-backed COVAX facility and other partners to ensure the equitable distribution of approximately 80 million Covid-19 vaccines from its stockpiles in accordance with scientific and public health data from around the world. US President also said that the United States will share 20 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson surplus stocks by the end of June. This is in addition to the United States’ previous commitment to share 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine with other countries.