The Covax facility delivered its one billionth dose over the weekend, but this came much later than expected as the world continued to reel from the virus and its series of variants.
Last year, Covax’s good intentions were hampered by rich countries cornering most of the vaccine supply, export bans from producer countries, regulatory red tape and manufacturing delays, according to a report by Agence France Presse.
Covax relied on vaccines donated by wealthy countries, but these jabs were often about to expire.
As a result, vaccine delivery was marked by inefficiency and inhuman inequity.
For 2021, top recipients of vaccines from Covax were Bangladesh with 130 million, Indonesia 87 million, Pakistan 77 million, and the Philippines 66 million.
The facility vows to do better this year. It launched a fund drive to raise $5.2 billion over the next three months so it can dramatically improve its operations in 2022.
Covax says it intends to smooth the supply chain this year by setting up a reliable stream off the production lines and efficient distribution arrangements in recipient countries, the AFP reports.
“We can break the cycle of transmission and the pain and suffering,” Gavi chief Seth Berkley said.
Still, there are many challenges to hurdle, including individual countries’ capacity to hold vaccination drives and the emergence of other variants.
It is apparent that COVID-19 will not go away anytime soon, and countries including the Philippines will have to build programs that take into consideration the virus’ prolonged presence instead of imagining a post-COVID world. The leaders of nations should take advantage of the Covax’s resolve to provide vaccines with greater efficiency.
Only through immunity can we decisively end this health and economic scourge.
Here at home, our new set of leaders should not only work to obtain vaccine supply but ensure they are immediately brought and administered to Filipinos in all regions in the country at the soonest possible time.
Anything less than a strategic plan to achieve herd immunity for the entire nation would be criminal ineptitude in the face of a virus that has terrorized and paralyzed us for so long.