UNICEF chief asks G7 to donate excess vaccines to cover COVAX shortfall

UNITED NATIONS. UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Executive Director Henrietta Fore on Sunday asked the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized countries to donate excess COVID-19 vaccines to the COVAX Facility, a global tool to procure and deliver vaccines for low- and middle-income countries.

She made the plea as G7 leaders will meet next month in Britain. New data analysis provided by Airfinity, a life sciences research facility, indicates that G7 nations and “Team Europe” group of European Union member states could donate around 153 million vaccine doses if they shared just 20 percent of their available supply over June, July and August.

They could do so while still meeting their commitments to vaccinate their own populations, Fore said in a statement. “While some G7 members have greater supply than others, and some have further advanced domestic roll-outs, an immediate collective commitment to pool excess supply and share the burden of responsibility could buttress vulnerable countries against becoming the next global hot spot,” she said.

Sharing immediately available excess doses is a minimum, essential and emergency stop-gap measure, and it is needed right now, she said. Among the global consequences of the situation in India, a global hub for vaccine production, is a severe reduction in vaccines available to COVAX.

Its soaring domestic demand has meant that 140 million doses intended for distribution to low- and middle-income countries through the end of May cannot be accessed by COVAX. Another 50 million doses are likely to be missed in June, said the statement.

The clearest pathway out of this pandemic is a global, equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. COVAX, with UNICEF as key implementing partner, represents such a pathway, she said.

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