Coronavirus: WHO eyeing half-billion vaccine doses by 2021's first quarter
With encouraging news about the coronavirus vaccine trickling in, the World Health Organization said on Friday that it is expecting nearly half a billion doses will be available for distribution by the first quarter of 2021 under the global COVAX initiative. WHO's Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said the goal was to acquire two billion doses by the end of 2021. Here are more details.
What is the COVAX initiative?
Launched in August 2020, the COVAX initiative is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Gavi vaccine alliance, and the WHO. It aims to provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines across the world. The initiative is part of a larger plan, called the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator. Till now, 189 countries, barring the US, have joined the initiative.
WHO eyeing two billion doses by 2021-end
Addressing a press conference from Geneva, where WHO is based, Swaminathan said, "The goal is to get at least two billion doses by end of 2021 which will be enough to vaccinate 20% of the populations of countries that are part of COVAX." The number, she hoped, will be enough to end the "acute phase of the pandemic" by reducing the mortality rate.
Naturally, few countries will receive the doses first
She added by 2021's Q1, half a billion doses would be ready for distribution in a fair manner. "So countries can start expecting doses toward the end of the first quarter of 2021. A few countries may start earlier, it's likely, possible, that we may have some learnings by going early into a few countries," she added. By Q2, everything will be more streamlined.
Vaccines won't be mandatory in US, said President-elect Biden
Meanwhile, in the US, the worst affected nation, President-elect Joe Biden said vaccines won't be mandatory. "I don't think they should be mandatory. I wouldn't demand it to be mandatory," Biden said. But he added that he is willing to get inoculated publicly to address any concerns linked with the vaccine. In the US, 14,772,535 have gotten infected and 285,550 have died.
Wear mask for 100 days: Biden
Further, Biden also wants people to wear a mask for 100 days. "If people do it for 100 days in the middle of what will be still a raging crisis and the vaccine is able to be distributed, they are going to see deaths drop off the edge," he added. Last month, the Democrat defeated incumbent President Donald Trump to win the bitterly-fought elections.
Three former Presidents have volunteered to get vaccinated on camera
In the US, where there are palpable inhibitions about the vaccine, former Presidents have volunteered to get vaccinated publicly. Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George Bush have said they will take the vaccine on camera to assuage fears. "If Anthony Fauci tells me this vaccine is safe, and can vaccinate, you know, immunize you from getting COVID-19, absolutely, I'm going to take," Obama said.
Vaccine will be in India within few weeks, said PM
Separately, in India, the second worst-hit nation, the initial doses of vaccine are expected within a few weeks. At an all-party meet yesterday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi informed, "There are eight potential vaccines at different stages of trials and their production will be in India. Three indigenous vaccines are also at different levels of trials. Experts believe it will not be a long wait for a COVID-19 vaccine."