Tuesday, March 2, 2021
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Vaccinating equitably

Once again, tragic circumstances are testing the ultimate human nature. The initial instinct of us versus them is glaring its nasty fangs on the vulnerable while the rich are thriving. For a long time, the world has waited for the vaccine to save it from the current coronavirus pandemic. However, now that it’s here, some countries are taking the majority of these doses while leaving the rest of the third world up and dry. Moreover, since the doses are limited, it is not fair to vaccinate outside the assigned framework of equitable allocation of the vaccine. 

Leveling up the field

Though 42 countries are already rolling out different kinds of  COVID-19 vaccines, only 6 of them are from low-income countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) head, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, 36 of the countries are either high-income nations of first world countries. The initial situation is raising a lot of concerns about the place of third world countries right now. 

“There’s a clear problem that low and most middle-income countries are not receiving the vaccine yet”, Tedros stated clearly. He then added that the issue can and must be solved “together through COVAX and the ACT-Accelerator”. 

The world health organization, along with the GAVI, the vaccine alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI),  have set up these 2 programs last April. They aim to provide accelerated access to COVID-19 Tools such as diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines. Furthermore, the programs’ main concern is to provide these tools and services to all nations, regardless of their ability to pay. 

Out of reach

With rich countries buying most of the covid-19 vaccine supply so far, other nations’ access to the vaccine is turning to be very limited. Moreover, since middle and high-income countries are making bilateral deals, vaccine prices are soaring. Thus, their actions are directly taking away the vaccine rights out of the poorest and most marginalized nations and keeping it out of reach. “Vaccine nationalism hurts us all and is self-defeating”, declared the top WHO official. He also explained that vaccinating equitably “saves lives, stabilizes health systems,” and would lead to “a truly global economic recovery that stimulates job creation”. 

Furthermore, despite the coronavirus’s ability to mutate, he insisted that “if we don’t reduce transmission and vaccinate equitably, we’re helping it thrive”. 

“Going forward, I want to see manufacturers prioritize supply and rollout through COVAX”, he said. “And I urge countries and manufacturers to stop making bilateral deals at the expense of COVAX”. 

Generating economic benefits

The Global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines is estimating the economic benefits of at least US$ 153 billion in 2020 and 2021 for 10 major economies. The generated profit will continue to drastically increase till it almost reaches US$ 466 billion by 2025. Thus, the lack of vaccine access and vaccine equitability will also cause significant economic damage while putting decades of economic progress at risk. 

 The Eurasia Group report analyses ten major economies including Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Qatar, South Korea, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and the United States. Furthermore, The  Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation report indicates that the profit is more than 12 times the US$ 38 billion estimated total cost of the ACT Accelerator. Thus, despite the damage that the pandemic caused to these countries, they are more than capable of helping the world achieve vaccine equability. 

Therefore Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, urged countries to commit to the work of the ACT Accelerator, stating that, “The ACT Accelerator is the global solution to ending the acute phase of the pandemic as quickly as possible by ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 tools. Contributing to the ACT Accelerator it is not just the right thing to do – it’s the smart thing for all countries – socially, economically, and politically.”

Our victory, our lose

Winning against the pandemic is going to be a worldwide effort. From upholding the safety precautions accountability to sharing the vaccine with the most vulnerable, we are in this togather. “Remember, ending this pandemic is one of humanity’s great races, and whether we like it or not, we will win or lose this race together”, Tedros said.  

Moreover, “No country is exceptional and should cut the queue and vaccinate all their population, while some remain with no supply”, he warned.  “Science has delivered, let’s not waste the opportunity to protect lives of those most at risk and ensure all economies have a fair shot at recovery”.

References:

Global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines estimated to generate economic benefits of at least US$ 153 billion in 2020–21, and US$ 466 billion by 2025, in 10 major economies, according to a new report by the Eurasia Group. (2020, December 3). Who. https://www.who.int/news/item/03-12-2020-global-access-to-covid-19-vaccines-estimated-to-generate-economic-benefits-of-at-least-153-billion-in-2020-21Nature Editorial. (2020). Why a pioneering plan to distribute COVID vaccines equitably must succeed. Nature. https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-021-00044-9?error=cookies_not_supported&code=69142dbe-811a-41d1-86ae-e60df3e33ef6Vaccinating equitably ‘saves lives, stabilizes health systems’ – WHO. (2021, January 12). UN News. https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/01/1081692

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