G7 countries must donate surplus supplies to the global vaccine sharing scheme as a “minimal and essential” measure, said UNICEF, to fill an “emergency” gap triggered by the drop in Indian exports.
The COVAX regimen relies heavily on doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), which is produced for dozens of low- and middle-income countries. But India it restricted jab exports so that it could be used domestically to face a second wave that was ravaging the country.
“Sharing the excess doses immediately available is a minimal, essential and emergency palliative measure, and is needed now,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
She added that this could help prevent vulnerable countries from becoming the next global hotspot.
India is battling a second lethal wave of coronavirus infections, with 281,386 new cases daily and deaths hovering at about 4,000 a day.
More than 270,000 people died in India after contracting the coronavirus.
The UN agency UNICEF, which oversees the supply of vaccines against coronavirus through COVAX, estimates the deficit at 140 million doses by the end of May and around 190 million by the end of June.
Ms. Fore said that the G7 countries could donate about 153 million doses if they shared only 20% of their available supply in June, July and August, citing new research by the scientific analysis and information company Airfinity.
She said countries could achieve this while still meeting commitments to vaccinate their own populations, although she did not provide further details.
Other manufacturing limitations outside India have also reduced the supply of COVAX, UNICEF said.
But he expects these delays to be resolved by the end of June.