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With coronavirus cases still on the rise, Honduras got tired of waiting for vaccinations through a United Nations program, so the small Central American country went independent and secured the shots through a private deal.
Honduras “cannot wait for bureaucratic processes or misguided decisions” to give citizens “the security” that the Covid-19 vaccine provides, said Juan Carlos Sikaffy, president of the Honduran Private Business Council, who by providing a bank to complete the purchase added warranty.
Other nations are also getting impatient. Unlike previous disease outbreaks, where less affluent countries have generally waited for vaccines to be delivered by the United Nations and other agencies, many are now taking matters into their own hands. Experts are increasingly concerned that these standalone efforts could undermine a United Nations-backed program to get Covid-19 footage to the world’s neediest people.
Countries like Serbia, Bangladesh, and Mexico have recently started vaccinating citizens through donations or trade deals – an approach that could leave even fewer vaccines for the program known as Covax, as rich countries have already used up most of this year’s supply to have.
Led by the World Health Organization, a coalition for epidemic preparation known as CEPI, and a vaccine alliance called Gavi, Covax was created to distribute Covid-19 vaccines fairly. Countries can join either to buy vaccines or to receive donated footage.
Mustaqeem De Gama, a diplomat with the South African mission in Geneva, cited “a level of despair” caused by the spread of virus variants and “the uncertainty of when Covax vaccines might arrive”. He doubted that countries that signed up for Covax would “get as much as 10% of what they need”.
Even if the efforts are successful, Covax’s stated goal is to vaccinate less than 30% of people in poor countries, which means governments will have to seek other sources to get enough shots to achieve herd immunity.