COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme hopes to send millions of delayed doses of AstraZeneca’s doses to Africa in June and July, but the deployment hinges on a Spanish manufacturing site securing regulatory approval, U.N. officials said on Friday. Africa has been hit by a halt in vaccine exports from India which were due to make up a significant por-tion of the first phase of the COVAX roll-out.
As a result, many recipients including health workers will not receive their second dose of the AstraZeneca shot within the recommended 12-week interval, reports Reuters. “The second dose gap is a huge issue,” World Health Organisation senior adviser Bruce Aylward told a virtual U.N. briefing.
“We are working hard with AstraZeneca and with our scheduling and we are about to reschedule about 16 million doses to try and cover those second doses” to be shipped out in late June and early July, he said. COVAX aims to secure 2 billion doses for lower-income countries this year but currently faces a 200 million dose supply gap due to the India disruptions as well as delays from other manufacturers. The WHO has called for wealthier countries to advance doses to meet the shortfall.