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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Needles and vials of vaccine. Photo: Sebastian Barros/NurPhoto via Getty Images

COVAX, the UN-backed program aimed at addressing COVID vaccine inequality, cut its forecast for doses available in 2021 by roughly a quarter.

Why it matters: The forecast led the World Health Organization (WHO) to double down on calls for wealthier nations to wait until at least the end of the year to administer booster shots so lower-income nations can vaccinate their populations.

By the numbers: In June, COVAX said it expected access to 1.9 billion doses by the end of 2021. On Wednesday, the program lowered that number to 1.425 billion.

Details: In recent months, COVAX has had to deal with the Indian government's decision to abruptly halt vaccine exports, production issues with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson and a delay in clearing the Novavax shot for administration, the program said.

  • It's also had to deal with wealthier nations' vaccine hoarding.
  • "COVAX is making strenuous efforts to address and mitigate these risks,” the program said, citing negotiations with the Indian government and efforts to convince manufacturers to prioritize COVAX over individual nations.
  • It also called on donors and manufacturers to "[e]xpand, accelerate, and systematize dose donations."

The big picture: 90% of high-income countries have vaccinated at least 10% of their populations, and over 70% have vaccinated at least 40%, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a video message Wednesday.

  • But no low-income country has reached either target, according to Tedros.
  • "I will not stay silent when the companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world’s poor should be satisfied with leftovers," he said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Don't forget: The Biden administration has faced pressure to send more vaccines abroad, but insists that choosing boosters over vaccine donations is a "false choice."

Go deeper

15 hours ago - Health

FDA approves Pfizer boosters for high-risk individuals, people 65 and up

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus booster shots for people at high risk of severe COVID-19 and people 65 years and older.

Driving the news: The approval comes just days after an FDA advisory panel recommended boosters for the two groups but overwhelmingly voted against the third shots for younger Americans.

United Airlines says 97% of U.S. employees fully vaccinated against COVID-19

Photo: James D. Morgan via Getty Images

United Airlines said Wednesday that over 97% of its U.S.-based employees are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to a company memo obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: United announced in August that it would require its 67,000 U.S.-based employees to get vaccinated by Sept. 27 or face termination. It's one of several airlines that set vaccine requirements even before President Biden issued his own vaccine mandate for employers with over 100 workers.

Sep 21, 2021 - Health

D.C. school employees required to get vaccinated

Photo: Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images

All D.C. school and daycare employees — public, private, and charter — must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 1 with no option to test out, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced today.

  • Student athletes over the age of 12 will also be required to get vaccinated in order to participate in after-school programs, the mandate says. 

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