SWITZERLAND – The Independent Allocation Vaccine Group (IAVG), which was established by the WHO in January 2021 and is taked to review and assess Vaccine Allocation Decision (VAD) proposals generated by the COVAX Facility Joint Allocation Taskforce (JAT) has expressed concerns about the evolution of the pandemic.
The body, which deliberates on the volumes of vaccines that should be allocated to each participant under COVAX within a given time frame, is fearful of the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic and is raising awareness of governments, manufacturers and stakeholders of challenges in access to COVID-19 vaccines.
The IAVG is concerned about the 25 percent reduction in supply forecast for the fourth quarter of 2021. It is also concerned about the prioritization of bilateral deals over international collaboration and solidarity, export restrictions and decisions by some countries to administer booster doses to their adult populations.
IAVG has expressed concern over the low supply of vaccines to COVAX, and has reiterated the need for manufacturers, vaccine producing and high-coverage countries to prioritize vaccine equity and transparency, the sharing of information about manufacturing capacity and supply schedules to COVAX, as well as vaccine access plans.
The recent exceptional allocation round at which the recommendation was made that the October COVAX supply be fully dedicated to those countries with a low population coverage, after accounting for all sources of vaccines, is a step forward in achieving equitable access.
Furthermore, the body is urging manufacturers to waive indemnification and liability for use in humanitarian settings, given that only three have so far done this, a step which has consequences for vaccines allocated to the humanitarian buffer, as well as potentially setting precedents for future use.
Hitherto, IAVG has advocated for synergistic efforts to keep up with vaccine administration. Among the suggested execution plans was equitable access to funding for vaccine implementation by less privileged countries.
Also, IAVG noted that donations to COVAX are an important source of vaccine supply; however, these should complement rather than replace vaccine procurement by COVAX given the high transaction burden and costs in managing these donations.
However, it would be futile to implement these recommendations when still, there is rampant vaccination hesitancy. Hence, programmes set up to address this issue should be tailored to local contexts and the engagement of local communities and civil society is critical to ensuring their effectiveness.