COVAX Was a Great Idea, But Is Now 500 Million Doses Short of Its Vaccine Distribution Goals. What Exactly Went Wrong?
In January 2020, world leaders and industry titans gathered in Switzerland for the World Economic Forum’s annual Davos conference. Much of the conversation centered around the mysterious new coronavirus that had emerged in Wuhan, China, a month earlier, and had at that point infected nearly 300 people in four countries. Two of the conference’s attendees were Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and Dr. Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). Over scotch and nachos one night, Berkley and Hatchett got to talking about worst-case scenarios. “‘If this does evolve into a pandemic,’” Hatchett remembers discussing, “‘how are we going to get [vaccine] doses to developing countries?’” [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Hatchett, who served in both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, oversaw the U.S.’ vaccine donations to other countries during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. As COVID-19 began to spread in early 2020, he didn’t know if vaccines would prove necessary. But he knew from experience that, if they did, wealthy countries were likely to buy out and hoard whatever limited supply of doses came together—unless “aggressive action,” as he describes it, was taken to stop them. In March 2020, as the COVID-19 virus continued to spread across the planet, Hatchett wrote a white paper laying the groundwork for a solution: a glo...
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