The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Covax stepped up when no one else did

Workers load a truck with 350,000 doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines, redeployed from the Democratic Republic of Congo, at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, on May 7, 2021. (Francis Kokoroko/Reuters)
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The March 23 front-page article “Idea’s flaws doomed Covax from beginning” failed to consider the most fundamental question: If Covax had never been created, who would have taken responsibility for helping countries and people with relatively few resources get their fair share of essential vaccines?

Starting two years ago with no staff and no money but with the knowledge that no other international organization or country was prepared to step up and lead a global vaccines response, we knew our work was never going to be easy.

Today, we’ve delivered 1.4 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines, helping protect on average 40 percent of people in 92 lower-income countries with a two-dose course, which is beyond our initial target of protecting the most vulnerable 20 percent. This is still not where the world needs to be, but with supply available now to help all of these countries meet and go beyond their national coverage goals, there is undeniable momentum.

The truth is the world should have had a plan in place well before the pandemic; I was among the people vociferously calling for one. But it didn’t, and so we got to work. It’s easy to be critical of these efforts but less easy to come up with another solution that works. In the meantime, our work goes on: helping countries administer more doses before a new wave strikes and, yes, raising more money so that if the time comes to buy more vaccines, lower-income countries are not again forced to the back of the queue.

Seth Berkley, Geneva

The writer is chief executive of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

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