The idea was to donate one shot to developing countries for every shot in the Netherlands. The Netherlands will donate more than 27 million vaccines, 21 million through the Covax program and 6 million through its own initiative. But with 2.15 million vaccines donated, the Netherlands is nowhere near the original target.
On its own initiative, the Netherlands donated vaccines to Indonesia, Suriname, Cape Verde and Namibia. The rest of the donations go through Covax, a donation program set up by the World Health Organization, the European Commission, France and billionaire Bill Gates’ charitable organization.
The goal of the Covax program was to vaccinate 20 percent of the population of 92 low- and middle-income countries. Those countries will receive 1.7 billion vaccines by the end of the year.
In a letter to Parliament, Minister de Jong wrote at the end of September that the donation to Covax had proven complicated, in part because the organization only accepts vaccines that come directly from the factory. “Donating medicine is always complicated and subject to strict rules,” the minister wrote.
Aid organizations are angry at the situation regarding the donation. “It’s very easy to promise something, but it shows it’s not working,” an Oxfam spokesperson told Novib.
According to the aid organization, governments should not hide behind Covax’s problems. Instead, more vaccines must be produced in the developing countries themselves. For this, patents on vaccines must be suspended, according to Oxfam Novib. “The Dutch government has to work hard for this within the European Union.”
The ministry says it still wants to provide 27 million vaccines this year. This will require a massive catch-up in just three months. ‘In the short term’ the department expects the first large donation to Covax.
The Netherlands is still entitled to more than 20 million vaccines this year. If delivered as promised, it will be delivered directly to Covax. “We have concluded agreements with Pfizer and AstraZeneca to supply 10.5 million vaccines directly to Kovacs in the coming weeks,” the ministry said. “Please wait. We still intend to donate 27 million vaccines before the end of the year. We are working hard on that at the moment.”
at the last minute
The problem with this is that everything comes in bulk at the last minute. Something, according to UNICEF, could cause distribution problems in the developing countries themselves. UNICEF is responsible for distributing the donated vaccines on behalf of Covax.
“When everyone is trying to deliver on their last-minute promise and deliver all of their vaccines at once, UNICEF cannot address all of that and you may be missing out on vaccines,” her spokesperson said.
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