AMSTERDAM - With 72 days to go until the end of the year, Dutch vaccine donations to poorer countries have barely started. Half a million doses have been given to the Covax program to date, while 21 million were pledged for this year. The Ministry of Public Health, Welfare, and Sports confirmed this after reporting by RTL Nieuws.
The Cabinet promised to donate a dose for every jab in the Netherlands. This is partly done through the Covax vaccination program of the World Health Organization, among others. Another part goes directly abroad, such as to Cape Verde and Indonesia. The Ministry expects to start delivering vaccines next week and donate 10 million doses within a few weeks.
At the end of September, caretaker Health Minister Hugo de Jonge wrote to parliament that the Netherlands had donated half a million doses to Covax up to that point. That number was lower than anticipated due to practical difficulties. For example, it turned out that the vaccines were best delivered directly from the factory. Everything had to be arranged for that.
Donations would start soon, the Minister wrote three weeks ago. Yet, not a single batch has been donated since then. The 4.5 million doses that would go to Indonesia "in the coming weeks," according to De Jonge, are also not yet on their way. Nevertheless, the Ministry expects to reach the goal of 21 million donations of Covax and more than 6 million directly this year.
Internationally, there is much criticism on the slow development of the Covax program because the donations from wealthier countries fall short of what was promised. This not only entails risks for public health in those countries but can also lead to the pandemic lasting longer than necessary, De Jonge acknowledged last month.
According to Oxfam Novib, developing countries have to make do with an "endless stream of inadequate gestures and broken promises, coming from rich countries and pharmaceutical companies." The Ministry says it has the same goal as the organization and is working hard to achieve it.