While several countries across the world are successfully immunising people in a bid to curb the spread of COVID, a sense of dread is growing in some of the poorest countries in the world as COVID-19 cases surge and more contagious variants take hold amid a crippling vaccine shortage
World Health Organization on Friday has revealed that a "huge number" of poorer countries have had to suspend their coronavirus vaccination programmes due to a lack of doses.
According to officials from WHO, between 30 to 40 countries are unable to provide second doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, especially those expecting jabs from AstraZeneca,
"We have a huge number of countries currently that have had to suspend the rollout of their second doses of vaccine," Xinhua news agency quoted Bruce Aylward, Senior Advisor to the WHO Director-General on Organizational Change, as saying on Friday.
Many countries that were expecting AstraZeneca vaccines from the Serum Institute of India, distributed through WHO-led COVAX program, had seen their supplies being reduced as the manufacturer had to prioritize India's outbreak in April 2021.
Aylward said that countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Middle East as well as neighbours of India, such as Nepal or Sri Lanka, are affected.
Katherine O'Brien, WHO Director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals said that many of these countries are at the very end of the supply they have.
She added that countries with "weak" vaccination programs suffer from discontinued supplies, a situation that could create a loss of confidence among populations.
As of June 18, a total of 2,378,482,776 vaccine doses have been administered across the world, according to the WHO.