Rich countries are making the pandemic last longer

Back in February, after a video conference of leaders of the G7 group of large developed economies, Angela Merkel the German Chancellor stressed that the pandemic will not be over until all people in the world have been vaccinated. It is therefore surprising that She said they had not discussed specific percentages of their vaccine stocks that should be given to poorer countries.

High-income countries have purchased more than half of the Covid-19 vaccine supply to date, and low-income countries, just 9 percent, according to Duke University’s Global Health Innovation Center. This is why a country like the US is close to vaccinating half its population with one dose while the rate in a place like Guinea is less than 1 percent and not moving.

If these glaring inequities in vaccine access continue, it will take at least two years for the world’s poorest countries, which couldn’t afford to compete for early doses of vaccines, to immunize the majority of their populations. Therefore, at this rate, there will be a long period where people in rich countries enjoy the benefits and safety of being fully immunized, while people in poorer countries continue to get sick and die from the coronavirus. “That’s not just unconscionable, but it also is very much against the interests of high-income countries,” according to Georgetown global health law professor Lawrence Gostin. With the virus continuing to circulate, and variants picking up pace around the globe, outbreaks in the poorest countries will continue to pose a threat to the world.

To learn more about the root causes of the problem, and how inequalities are baked into the vaccine manufacturing system, check out our new Vox video and read on.

Vox Video

Vaccine hoarding has happened in parallel with an unprecedented multilateral effort to support the development and equitable distribution of 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to the world’s poorest countries before the end of 2021, called Covax.

The initiative has two parts: a purchasing pool for higher-income countries, and a fundraising effort for poorer countries. By promising to buy a certain number of vaccine doses from manufacturers, countries that join get access to any vaccines that are approved in Covax’s portfolio, while also creating a global market for the shots and driving prices down.

Relatives, friends, and graveyard workers prepare to lower the body of a Covid-19 coronavirus victim during the burial at a graveyard in New Delhi on April 28, 2021.

More than 190 countries signed on — including rich ones. “Covax was trying to create a reality — they appealed to the better angels of all countries,” said Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health. But the bilateral deals took a lot of power away from Covax. Rich countries “want to have it both ways,” Gostin said. “They join Covax so they could proclaim to be good global citizens, and at the same time rob Covax of its lifeblood, which is vaccine doses.”

Rich countries also didn’t fund Covax’s purchasing pool to the levels the group called for. And for the majority of its supply, Covax also relies on India, which, again, is currently restricting exports. The result: Covax, according to Duke, has only delivered about one in five of the doses that were expected by the end of May. Click full source article.

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