Biden administration on Friday informed lawmakers that an acute global shortage of COVID-19 vaccines has been created after India pulled back its supply of vaccines to the rest of the world once hit by the second wave of the pandemic.
"When the Delta variant is raging around the world and supply is lacking globally because the Serum Institute of India pulled back hundreds of millions of vaccines that were supposed to go to COVAX because Europe is still in the throes of the pandemic, hopefully coming out of it now with light at the end of the tunnel," USAID Administrator Samantha Power told a Congressional Committee. The shortage is going to end soon as the United States has purchased Pfizer's vaccine, she added. Pfizer's vaccines shall come online in August.
"COVAX is in the position it's in because India has had to pull back so much supply that had been intended to go for second shots and for health workers. COVAX has found itself in this third quarter in a really difficult pinch," she said.
"It's already changing for some countries because of our bilateral dose sharing of surplus vaccines. But the more doses we can bring online that can be part of the American leadership on this issue, where we single-handedly are not going to vaccinate the world, but we can mobilise the world to get it vaccinated," she added.
They had expected to receive the correct number earlier this year as they have received the first doses of AstraZeneca. Though they thought the Serum Institute of India would be providing the second dose, it then stopped export to meet the demand within India amidst the second wave, she noted.
"So COVAX has found itself in this period in a very difficult spot. And when I say COVAX, it's not COVAX. It's a developing country. It's the poorest countries in the world," Power said.