WHO: Issue of equity in COVID-19 vaccine production and distribution, including the use of COVAX
‘Our World in Data’ has estimated that 54.5% of the world population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 8.02 billion doses have been administered globally, and 31.93 million are now administered each day. However, only 6% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose. In contrast, over 70% of high income countries have vaccinated more than 40% of their people. These statistics, aims to highlight how primarily high income countries have had the privilege of being vaccinated. The reason behind such inequalities derive mainly from the fact that low income countries are unable to afford the vaccines, therefore high income countries are given priority. Due to the lack of equitable vaccine distribution, new variants, such as the “Omicron Variant”, have become of great concern for more infection. In fact, such variants have been seen to derive mainly from low income countries with a low vaccination rate, like South Africa. It is not yet clear if the “Omicron Variant'' is more transmissible and severe than Covid-19, however research is currently being conducted.
Covid-19 remains a current issue to which a solution is still being established. COVAX so far has shipped over 610 million covid-19 vaccinations to 144 countries. According to COVAX “available doses will be allocated to all participating countries at the same rate, proportional to their total population size” while “no country will receive enough doses to vaccinate more than 20% of its population until all countries in the financing group have been offered this amount.” Essentially, such regulations outline the way in which COVAX gives vaccine shipping priority to ‘financing countries’ — therefore high-income countries — further outlining the way in which global organisations are not acting towards bridging the inequity within vaccine distribution, but are, in fact, fueling it. Henceforth, fundraising is necessary in order for COVAX to continue an equitable distribution of vaccines in which a country’s financial advantage does not take priority.
As of today, the World Health Organization is trying to tackle the situation by distributing equal vaccine doses between countries and has stated that “this is not a supply problem; it’s an allocation problem.” This confirms that there is in fact enough covid-19 vaccine supply for everybody, “with global vaccine production now at nearly 1.5 billion doses per month”, yet it is only a matter of distributing the vaccine equitably. WHO aims to vaccinate 40% of the population of every country by the end of this year, and 70% by the middle of next year.
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