Global vaccine program COVAX low on funds, seeks $5.2B

FILE - A medical staff gives syringes with vaccination against the coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease to a doctor inside the Klunkerkranich Restaurant and night club during an ongoing vaccination campaign of the Clubkommission in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

GENEVA (AP) — The global initiative to share coronavirus vaccines equally between rich and poor countries asked Wednesday for $5.2 billion in funds to be able to keep buying doses in coming months.

The UN-backed program known as COVAX has delivered just over 1 billion doses since shipments started nearly a year ago.

The initial goal was to deliver 2 billion doses by the end of 2021, but COVAX’s lack of cash when vaccine deals were being made gave it a late start, and most of the world’s vaccine doses have gone to wealthy nations who locked in contracts. As things stand now, less than 10% of the people in low-income countries have received at least one dose, while more than 60% of world’s overall population has been vaccinated — some with three or four doses.

Seth Berkley, the CEO of GAVI, the global health organization that co-founded the COVAX initiative, said it was key to supplying poor countries with vaccine shots now and in the future but “we right now are basically out of money.”