Biden plans to press for global Covid vaccination target of 70%
Joe Biden will reportedly propose a target of 70% of the world’s population to be vaccinated within the next year at a special summit he intends to convene alongside the UN general assembly in New York this month.
The US president’s target, reported by the New York Times, is in line with ambitions set jointly by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) but is more ambitious than current performance and the targets set at the G7 meeting in Cornwall chaired by Boris Johnson. The G7 agreed to donate 870m doses of Covid-19 vaccines directly, with an aim to deliver at least half by the end of 2021.
The west has been accused of hoarding surplus vaccines or of moral failure by providing jabs to teenagers or a third dose to adults when large tracts of Africa remain unvaccinated.
In June the heads of the World Bank group, the IMF, the WHO and World Trade Organization (WTO) set a target of having 60% of the world’s population vaccinated by the middle of 2022.
The US draft also calls for countries “with relevant capabilities” either to purchase or donate 1bn additional doses of vaccine beyond the 2bn that have been pledged by wealthy nations; and for world leaders to ensure that $3bn (£2.2bn) is made available in 2021 and $7bn in 2022 in financing “for vaccine readiness and administration, combating hesitancy, and procuring ancillary supplies”.
This month the WHO reported that only 20% of people in low- and lower-middle-income countries had received a first dose of vaccine compared with 80% in high- and upper-middle-income countries.
Its latest supply forecast suggested enough vaccines would be released through the Covax mechanism to protect 20% of the population, or 40% of all adults, in all 92 lower-income economies with the exception of India. That assumes 1.4bn doses will have been made available via Covax through 2021, a 25% shortfall from its previous projection of 1.9bn.
Explaining the shortfall, the WHO said its ability to protect the most vulnerable people in the world “continues to be hampered by export bans, the prioritisation of bilateral deals by manufacturers and countries, ongoing challenges in scaling up production by some key producers and delays in filing for regulatory approval”.
The WHO supply forecast projects a total of 2.6bn doses will have been released to low-income countries by the end of the first quarter of 2022. Dependent on a range of factors, including funding, the WHO projects 5.9bn doses can be available by the end of 2022.
The US, under pressure from Chinese vaccine diplomacy, said in August it had delivered 110m Covid vaccine doses to 65 countries.
Political pressure is also building at the WTO for a relaxation of intellectual property rules for Covid vaccines, first proposed by India and South Africa in October.