U.S.-brokered J&J vaccine deal for refugees in Thailand is delayed

In an interview with POLITICO about 2022 Covid-19 global health goals, Seth Berkley, the CEO of Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, said the J&J doses are still earmarked for Thailand. He said COVAX is hoping to ramp up donations through the humanitarian mechanism this year. COVAX announced in November that it had shipped 1.6 million doses to Iran to help protect Afghan refugees.

“There are stateless people and there are situations where people aren’t recognized. We have to have a humanitarian buffer,” Berkley said. “We want those vaccines to be made available in a way that allows them to be used quickly. That’s what we’ve been trying to work on.” Berkley noted countries have to apply for doses from COVAX to receive doses from the humanitarian buffer.

The White House declined to comment.

Global health advocates are encountering many obstacles in ensuring that shots not only get to countries quickly and equitably, but also that they get into arms. Liability contract language, a lack of adequate freezer storage and dwindling health care staff impact the ordering, storing and administering of the doses.

COVAX and the Biden administration are focusing on helping nations across the world, including those in low- and middle-income countries, develop plans to order more vaccines and administer them in 2022.

“I think resources are a constraint,” said Gayle Smith, who led the State Department’s global Covid-19 response last year, referring to the global health community’s 2022 vaccination efforts.