A World Health Organisation (WHO) official stated on Tuesday that more countries will be signing up to a global vaccination plan, and that some of the sign-up delays were because of procedural issues, rather than doubts about the whole scheme.
The organisation has stated that 156 countries so far have joined the COVAX plan to deliver around 2 billion vaccine doses globally by the end of 2021, yet some big countries such as China, Russia and the United States are still missing from the list.
Around 64 wealthy nations have signed up and more are expected to do so even though they missed the official deadline.
Some of those that are already supporting the plan, such as France, are reluctant to use the plan as a way of securing initial vaccines, with them striking separate supply deals in order to have an appropriate number of doses.
WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said that the plan is set to continue and that “We all need to be in this together in order to finish this pandemic.”
She refused to comment on certain countries and said that discussions were ongoing with numerous countries.
Harris said that some of the delays to joining the plan were down to paperwork and also the need for parliamentary approval of the matter.
Some countries, such as Russia, have no intention of signing up to the plan, with a Russia government source telling Reuters that there was no need for his country to be involved in the programme since it is developing and producing its own vaccine.
The source said that “Nevertheless, we do not rule out the possibility that our vaccine will in future be offered to participants of COVAX”.
However, the Russian health ministry refused to respond to a request for comment.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said during a news briefing on Tuesday that “China will continue to work with WHO, Gavi and relevant countries on vaccine development”.
During the same briefing, Harris said that the WHO will be developing a WHO internal app that provides information on the pandemic that would also be able to make comprehensive global and regional overviews of the situations of each country.