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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

Oct 21, 2021 - Health

India crosses 1 billion COVID vaccinations milestone

A health worker inoculates a COVID-19 vaccine dose to a man wearing a face mask of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Beawar, India, in September. Photo: Sumit Saraswat/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Thursday that the country's health workers have now administered more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines doses.

Of note: While this is a significant milestone for the country of 1.4 billion, which has been devastated by the coronavirus, only about 30% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, per AP. Roughly 75% have received at least one dose.

Updated Oct 21, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: Pfizer booster has 95.6% efficacy, large study shows — FDA authorizes mix-and-match for booster shots — J&J expects $2.5 billion of vaccine sales this year.
  2. Health: Cases and deaths keep falling — White House unveils plan to "quickly" vaccinate kids ages 5-11 — The global coronavirus vaccine gap — Gates Foundation to send $120 million of antiviral pills to lower-income countries.
  3. Politics: Reports: Brazil leader to be accused of crimes against humanity over COVID — Puerto Rico leads U.S. vaccination rates — Hawaii invites fully vaccinated travelers to return from Nov. 1.
  4. Education: Education secretary reveals limits to Biden’s mask push on states — LA extends deadline for school employee vaccinations — Parent sues Wisconsin school district after child tests positive.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

DeSantis to convene state legislature to fight COVID vaccine mandates

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

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that he will convene a special session of the state legislature to combat coronavirus vaccine mandates enacted by businesses and "provide protections for employees."

Why it matters: This is the Republican governor's latest move to penalize local entities that implement mask or vaccine mandates to contain the spread of the virus.

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