Vaccine inequity: In the cutthroat race for vaccines

The world is unfair, no one denies. No one anticipated a gap in vaccines between the rich and the poor, so severe that it would lead to a pandemic.

Vaccine inequity: In the cutthroat race for vaccines

The world is unfair, no one denies. No one anticipated a gap in vaccines between the rich and the poor, so severe that it would lead to a pandemic.

18 July 2021 Sunday 11:14
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Vaccine inequity: In the cutthroat race for vaccines

Inequity reigns: After months of promising, the United States has stopped providing immunizations to Haiti. Haiti received its first shipment July 15, after months of delays. Canada has purchased more than 10 doses per resident. Sierra Leone's vaccination rate is just 1% as of June 20.

Strive Masiyiwa from the African Union's envoy to vaccine acquisition said it's like a famine where "the richest men grab the baker".

The Associated Press was told by American and European officials that they were deeply involved in the distribution and bankrolling of vaccines against coronavirus. They instead fought for their domestic use.

There are other reasons vaccines do and don't reach the haves and haves.

COVID-19 unexpectedly decimated wealthy countries first -- some of these were among the few that produce the vaccines. The doses were kept within their borders by export restrictions.

A global purchase plan was in place to provide vaccines to poorer countries. However, it was so poorly funded and flawed that it couldn’t compete with the fierce competition to buy. Global public health was given priority over intellectual property rights. Rich countries expanded vaccinations to younger, younger people, ignored repeated pleas from health officials to give their doses instead, and debated booster shots even though poor countries could not vaccinate those most vulnerable.

In some ways, the disparity was inevitable. Wealthy nations expected to see a return on their taxpayer-funded investment. The scale of inequity, stockpiling of unneeded vaccines, and the absence of a viable global solution to a global problem have shocked health officials.

Masiyiwa stated that this was a deliberate, global architectureof unfairness at a Milkin Institute conference.

"We don't have access to vaccines, either donated or purchased. Surprised? This is exactly where we were during the HIV pandemic. Eight years after the West had access to therapeutics, we didn't receive them. We lost 10 million people.

He said, "It's simple math." "We don't have access. "We don't have a vaccine miracle."


After every outbreak, the epidemic playbook has been updated by the World Health Organization. This was most recently in Ebola. As in previous decades, emerging illnesses were largely controlled by countries with weak public health services and poor sanitation, crowded living conditions, and limited travel links.

The WHO has been assessing countries' preparedness for a flu pandemic for years. India, Europe, and the United States ranked among the top. The readiness of the United States was 96% and that of Britain 93%.

The coronavirus epidemic in China was declared a global emergency by WHO on Jan. 30, 2020. It would take months for the term "pandemic" to become official.

The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovations (CEPI) was also planning for the worst. According to minutes of its scientific advisory group, CEPI called for vaccine technologies that can be used for large-scale manufacturing. CEPI stated that it was crucial to support "global access strategy" early on in the game.

CEPI invested quickly in two promising coronavirus vaccinations, Moderna and CureVac.

Christian Happi, a professor at Nigeria’s Redeemer’s University and member of CEPI’s scientific advisory board, said, "We stated very early that it would be important for all countries to draw vaccines from, which is where accountability and transparency are key." "But we believed that rich countries would finance it for the developing world.

Happi stated that officials had never imagined the pandemic would hit first in Europe and worst in the U.S., or that their assessment of the preparedness of the most advanced economies around the world would be so optimistic.

He said that global health experts would soon realize that wealthy countries could sign a piece stating they believe in equity. But once the chips are down, they'll do what they want.

The novel mRNA vaccine, developed by Moderna, was administered to a participant in a clinical trial on March 16, five days following the declaration of the global pandemic.

The disease had already begun to affect the elderly in Europe and the United States.



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