Developing world faces 'acute and alarming' vaccine shortage

IMF, World Bank, WHO, and WTO unite to demand action from vaccine manufacturers and wealthy countries alike
Developing world faces 'acute and alarming' vaccine shortage

'Less than 5% of vaccine doses that were pre-purchased by or for low-income countries have been delivered,' according to the international group. 

Global vaccine makers should make clear the number, the price, and their schedule to deliver their jabs amid “acute and alarming” shortages in the developing world, an IMF-backed group has urged.

The group — which also includes the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and the World Trade Organization — also said rich countries should speed up their release of surplus jabs, saying vaccine-delivery to the non-rich world was too slow.

“In the area of vaccines, a key constraint is the acute and alarming shortage in the supply of doses to low- and low-middle income countries, especially for the rest of 2021,” the IMF said.

From the vaccine makers, it wants manufacturers to do more to supply the developing world in the coming months and urges the manufacturers “to improve clarity and transparency around the evolving vaccine market, expected production volumes, delivery schedules, and pre-purchase options”: 

Less than 5% of vaccine doses that were pre-purchased by or for low-income countries have been delivered.

Referring to existing global agreements, it called “on countries with advanced Covid-19 vaccination programmes to release as soon as possible as much of their contracted vaccine doses and options as possible”.

It said it aimed “for at least 40% of people in low and low-middle income countries to be vaccinated by the end of 2021”, adding that “less than 20% of the necessary vaccines is currently scheduled for delivery to these countries”.

Pfizer and Moderna both increase prices

Meanwhile, Pfizer and Moderna have both increased the prices of their Covid-19 vaccines in the latest supply contracts with the EU.

The price rises come as the EU deals with supply disruptions and side-effect concerns from other shots, according to the Financial Times report. The terms of the deals — struck this year and covering up to 2.1bn shots until 2023 — were renegotiated after phase 3 clinical trial data showed vaccines from the two companies are more effective than some rivals.

The new price for a Pfizer shot is €19.50, up from €15.50 previously, the newspaper said, citing portions of contracts it had seen. A Moderna jab increases to $25.50 (€21.50) a dose, it said.

US 'will not lock down again' 

In the US, the top infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, said the country will not lock down again to curb Covid-19 but “things are going to get worse” as the Delta variant fuels a surge in cases, mostly among the unvaccinated.

A sufficient percentage of Americans have now been vaccinated to avoid lockdowns, Mr Fauci said.

“Not enough to crush the outbreak, but I believe enough to not allow us to get into the situation we were in last winter,” he said.

UK finance minister presses for easier travel

Separately, Britain’s chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak has pressed for an easing of travel restrictions to offer respite to the tourism sector amid concerns that the country is not reaping the benefit of its vaccination programme.

The Sunday Times reported that Mr Sunak had written to British prime minister Boris Johnson warning of the impact that Britain’s strict border controls were having ahead a meeting of ministers on Thursday to consider changes.

The UK Treasury declined to comment.

England last month lifted the requirement for fully-vaccinated UK citizens returning from medium-risk countries to have to quarantine.

Visitors from the EU and US with the same status will also be exempt from today. However, travellers still have to take expensive tests before departure and shortly after arrival.

Airlines press for extended green list 

Separately, the bosses of many airlines and travel companies urged British transport minister Grant Shapps to add more countries to the green list that have fewer restrictions.

They said green status should increasingly become a default, given that nearly 90% of British adults had been given one vaccine and more than 70% had two, and domestic restrictions had eased.

“On this basis there is no reason why, and it is essential, that much of Europe including the key volume markets, the US, Caribbean, and other major markets, cannot turn green next week in time for the remainder of the summer peak,” bosses of Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic, Easyjet, British Airways, Jet2.com, Loganair, and TUI UK and Ireland said, in a letter shared with media.

• Additional reporting Bloomberg and Reuters

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