Covax promised 2 billion vaccine doses to help the world’s neediest in 2021. It won’t even deliver even half that.

“The opera isn’t over till the fat lady sings, right? So we won’t know until we know, but we are working intensively, literally around-the-clock to try, to get as many shipments out as possible,”

Covax, an expansive vaccine-sharing initiative to get doses to low- and middle-income nations, once pledged to deliver more than 2 billion shots worldwide by the end of the year. But as the days tick down, it is scrambling to deliver well under half that figure, the Washington Post reports.

The U.N.-led initiative is now racing to deliver 800 million doses by the end of the year, according to interviews with senior officials involved in Covax, which includes the World Health Organization and other groups. Even if that benchmark is met, it will be a far cry from the 2.3 billion doses hoped for in January by a program designed to counter a glut of vaccines in wealthy nations.

Covax lowered its estimate of doses delivered in 2021 to between 800 million and 1 billion doses late this year after a range of complications with supply and delivery. Omicron, a variant first detected in southern Africa, has added urgency to the need for vaccines, but also disrupted shipping and could upend Covax’s hopes for more regular shipments in 2022.

Though the organization was set up to pool money to purchase its own doses from a variety of manufacturers, many of those orders were delayed in the first part of the year, and the organization increasingly relies upon donations from the United States and other wealthy countries of vaccines including the AstraZeneca-Oxford, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson jabs. The Biden administration pledged in September to donate or facilitate the purchase of 1.1 billion doses to Covax, though many of those doses are not expected to arrive until next year.

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