World News

Despite the G7 pledge of global aid, South Asian countries still scramble for vaccines.

By Emily Schmall, Aanya Wipulasena, Bhadra Sharma and Julfikar Ali Manik

Sri Lanka is tapping Japan. Nepal has asked Denmark. Bangladesh has appealed to its diaspora in the United States.

South Asian countries are looking to the rest of the world to jump-start inoculation campaigns that have stalled since India halted vaccine exports to deal with its catastrophic second coronavirus wave this spring.

The ad hoc approach shows how the decision by India, the world’s biggest vaccine manufacturer, left poorer countries with few options for vaccines as richer countries hoarded much of the global supply. Even as the United States and other global powers pledge to donate a billion doses to poor nations, the World Health Organization says 11 billion doses are needed to defeat the pandemic.

Countries in South Asia and elsewhere — many battling outbreaks — continue to scramble for vaccines. Health officials say the vaccine pledge by the Group of 7 industrialized nations is too vague to incorporate into real planning, and does little to address the immediate needs of the millions of people awaiting doses.

India’s neighbors began vaccinations this year with a combination of doses donated by India and purchased from the Serum Institute of India, which is producing the vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, branded locally as Covishield.

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