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The Disparity In COVID-19 Vaccination And Its Consequences

COVID-19 Vaccine

With the world beginning to vaccinate for COVID-19, the poorest and least developed countries are lagging behind in what has been a vaccine race. In fact, according to the United Nations, 10 countries have administered 75 percent of all COVID-19 vaccines, while 130 countries have yet to receive a single dose. The most developed countries have received a number of vaccines that allows them to vaccinate their population multiple times.

As shown in the following map, vaccine delivery to a large part of the population, which will allow immunity, varies greatly from region to region. In the European Union it is estimated that by the end of 2021 the population will be vaccinated, in stark contrast to Africa, which is estimated to have its population inoculated only in 2023.

 

covid-19 vaccination map

 

This is due to several reasons; vaccines for COVID-19 are a limited resource, many still in early production. This shortage is exacerbated by the fact that many countries, particularly richer countries, have ordered large numbers of vaccines from pharmaceutical companies since last year, while they were still in the testing phase.

Added to this is the fact that countries with weaker economies have less monetary capacity to purchase the vaccine, have a larger population to vaccinate and fewer human and logistical resources to do so.

The recovery of countries from COVID-19 means not only a recovery at health and sanitary level, but also a recovery at an economic level. Therefore, the countries that vaccinate the quickest will get a boost in their economy, while the long lockdowns in poorer countries will mean a drag on trade and supply chains, dampening economic recovery, and worsening the standard of living of the population.

This disparity in vaccination will also have an impact on the dependence of one country on another. For example, the vaccination disparity is being used as a geopolitical weapon as Russia and China are doing by offering vaccines to countries that are “at the end of the line.” These countries are following their interests through their so-called “vaccine diplomacy” and for these powers to increase their global influence.

That said, as much as possible must be done to ensure equitable global access to immunisation. It is in this sense that the World Health Organization has launched a COVAX programme, on top of the ACT programme (Access to Covid-19 Tools). COVAX is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and WHO. Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world. Unfortunately, it promises only enough doses for 20 percent of each country’s populations and even those may not arrive promptly. Still, let’s hope it is a big step in the direction of a COVID-19-free-world.

 

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