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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

11 hours ago - Health

FDA advisory panel recommends Pfizer boosters for those 65 and older

A healthcare worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at the Key Biscayne Community Center on Aug. 24, 2021. Photo: Eva Marie Uzcategui/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday overwhelmingly voted against recommending Pfizer vaccine booster shots for younger Americans, but unanimously recommended approving the third shots for individuals 65 and older, as well as those at high-risk of severe COVID-19.

Why it matters: While the votes are non-binding, and the FDA must still make a final decision, Friday's move pours cold water on the Biden administration's plan to begin administering boosters to most individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine later this month.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
19 hours ago - Health

Key FDA committee takes on the big booster question

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A key FDA advisory committee is meeting today to discuss Pfizer's proposal for a COVID vaccine booster — but it will set the stage for the entire booster debate.

The big question: Not only whether experts believe there’s enough evidence to support boosters, but also whether they believe additional shots should be made available for everyone or limited to older Americans and the immunocompromised.

Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Key FDA committee takes on the big booster question — Los Angeles County to require vaccination proof at indoor bars — France suspends 3,000 unvaccinated health workers without pay.
  2. Health: Worsening crisis at Rikers Island jail spurs call for action — 1 in 500 Americans has died — Cases are falling, but deaths are rising.
  3. Politics: White House invites call with Nicki Minaj to discuss vaccine — Gottlieb says CDC hampered U.S. response — 26 states have limited state or local officials' public health powers.
  4. Education: Denver looks to students to close Latino vaccination gap — Federal judge temporarily blocks Iowa's ban on mask mandates in schools — Massachusetts activates National Guard to help with school transportation.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

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