Despite promises of solidarity on Covid-19, rich countries are snapping up the supply of promising vaccines
December 13, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.
A nurse holds a phial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Guy's Hospital in London, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. U.K. health authorities rolled out the first doses of a widely tested and independently reviewed COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, starting a global immunization program that is expected to gain momentum as more serums win approval. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, Pool)
When 90-year-old Margaret Keenan received the world's first clinically authorized and tested Covid-19 vaccine earlier this week, the end of the Covid-19 pandemic seemed finally in reach.
The People's Vaccine Alliance, an international vaccine watchdog that includes Amnesty International and Oxfam, said this past week that rich countries have bought enough Covid-19 vaccine doses to immunize their populations three times over.
The Alliance's data shows that while the world's wealthiest nations are snapping up deals, nearly 70 poor countries will only be able to vaccinate one in 10 people at best during 2021.
Speaking to CNN on Thursday, the head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention John Nkengasong said the inability for poorer countries to access vaccines would be "catastrophic. "
It makes absolutely no moral sense to have excess doses of vaccines in certain countries and absolutely no doses of vaccines in other areas of the world," he said.
Poorer countries, mostly on the African continent, have signed up to a separate COVAX facility to secure vaccines.
This past week Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious diseases expert who said he was speaking in his personal capacity, stated that his country has a "moral responsibility" to ensure that Covid-19 vaccines are fairly distributed, contradicting the outgoing President Donald Trump's largely symbolic executive order calling for Americans to get vaccines first.
A spokesperson for Gavi said the alliance has raised more than $2 billion to purchase vaccines for the poorest countries and need to raise more than $5 billion by the end of next year.
"Our priority remains securing the financing needed to ensure these countries receive rapid access to Covid-19 vaccine candidates through the COVAX Facility," the spokesperson told CNN.
Dr. Richard Mihingo, the coordinator of Immunization and Vaccine Development at the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa region, said he understood that countries needed to ensure that their own citizens get vaccinated.
Mihingo said that as rich countries vaccinate their citizens, it is likely that vaccine passports will become necessary for travel, study and commerce.
Despite the extreme squeeze on vaccine supply, the goal of COVAX is to deliver nearly 1 billion vaccine doses to lower-income countries by the end of 2021.