FORTUNE – The world finds itself awash in COVID-19 vaccines, but governments can’t get them into arms fast enough, as hesitancy and logistical hurdles threaten to indefinitely extend the pandemic.
Shots that were once rare are now piling up and even expiring, a problem on the agenda of a second global COVID-19 summit the U.S. is co-hosting on Thursday.
President Joe Biden kicked off the first summit eight months ago by announcing the U.S. would donate another 500 million doses to the international vaccination campaign, nearly doubling its total pledge.
But now, vaccine makers are idling production or face shutdowns as demand for shots wanes, even with the world still far from a target of inoculating 70% of humanity.
Republicans in Congress have so far blocked additional funding for the U.S. and international vaccination campaigns.
Advocates for widespread inoculation say participants at the virtual summit need to come up with a plan to shift focus from producing vaccines to administering shots. They warn that failure raises the risk of new variants arising, potentially with the ability to evade vaccine immunity and spark yet another wave of infections and deaths.
“We need to invest now because we’re going to continue to see more transmissible variants,” said Thomas Bollyky, director of the global health program at the Council on Foreign Relations.
“We are rolling the dice, in a game that we keep losing, to bet that we’re not going to end up with a variant that upends the progress we’ve seen.”
A group of Nobel laureates and dignitaries urged Biden this week to keep up pressure on Congress to approve billions in funding for international vaccinations.
Financing is essential “for building the staffing and the capacity to deliver these medical treatments,” they wrote. “The consequences of the lack of critical funding for the global COVID-19 response are clear. It will damage global vaccination and COVID-19 treatment efforts … ” READ MORE.