London: The international Covid vaccine scheme Covax has failed to evenly distribute vaccines against the infectious disease to poor countries, while rich countries have brought the jabs in surplus, many of which have also gone to waste.
"Rich countries have received 16 times more Covid-19 vaccines per person than poorer nations that rely on the Covax programme backed by the World Health Organization," according to an analysis by the Financial Times.
Data compiled by Unicef, a key implementation partner in the global vaccine scheme, show that 9.3 vaccines have been delivered to low-income countries for every 100 people, the report said. Of this, 7.1 have been delivered through Covax.
On the other hand, 115 of 155 high-income countries have received Covid vaccines through known bilateral and multilateral agreements.
According to Our World in Data, less than 3 per cent of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose, compared with three quarters in wealthier countries.
Launched in 2020, Covax was aimed at giving people in poor countries equitable access to vaccines.
But "the scheme has, so far, only delivered about 400 million doses out of an already-cut yearly projection of 1.4 billion," the report said.
It now "faces the challenge of delivering about 1 billion doses in 68 days -- almost 14 million doses a day -- to meet its 2021 goals," the report added.
Further, Covax was originally supposed to ease procurement of vaccines for poorer nations, by means of collective bargaining by counties. But first it faced delays in shipments, then instead of making a combined deal with manufacturers, richer nations struck their own vaccine contracts.
This weakened the facility's overall negotiating power because Covax was left to negotiate on behalf of fewer nations, the report said.
"Covax is definitely being left behind, (the) industry is prioritising other bilateral contracts," a high-ranking official with direct knowledge of the issue was quoted as saying to FT.
To boost the availability of vaccines, the WHO earlier this month issued a renewed call for dose-swapping and called for a global moratorium on booster shots until the end of the year. It has stated that the Covid-19 pandemic will drag on until 2022, much longer than it needs to, because several poor countries have not received vaccines against the deadly infectious disease.