On the side-line of the US Secretary of state, Anthony Bliken’s visit to Nigeria, where he is meeting with president Muhammed Buhari, to discuss collaboration on global health security and other issues of import, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Africa, has urged visitor to rally wealthy nations to address global vaccine inequity.
Dr Penninah Lutung, Bureau Chief, Africa – AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) noted that ‘‘the novel coronavirus has shown glaring flaws in the world’s collective ability to respond to infectious disease outbreaks, with evident unwillingness by wealthiest countries’ to cooperate on vaccine equity for the benefit of the entire global population’’.
According to Lutung, the Covax initiative, while promising, was supposed to supply lower-income countries with sufficient vaccine doses. However, that mechanism clearly has fallen short of its initial goal to vaccinate 20% of recipient countries, which is still far too little when the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) states that a vaccination rate of 70% is required to protect the world.
As of early October 2021, 3.6 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses had been administered globally, with 78% of those going to people in high- and upper-middle-income countries. Less than 7% of the 1.3 billion people on the African continent have received even one dose. The discrepancy is worse for people in low-income countries where less than 1% have gotten a shot.
Instructively, high-income countries have commenced administering booster shots, while Africa and other hard-hit regions struggle. W.H.O. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus recently said it was “unconscionable” that some countries are now offering booster shots “while so many people remain unprotected.”
It is pressing for world leaders to prioritize global vaccine access and tow the path of the United States’ leadership in ensuring that majority of nations that desperately want to vaccinate their populations are able to do so, and Secretary Bliken has a rallying voice to push for vaccine equity.
A sense of vaccine equity will also set in when pharmaceutical companies share their know-how and technology to increase production in Africa and globally and, when we are rid of patent monopolies for covid
Further steps that leaders of the wealthiest economies must take include: raising at least $100 billion, enough to vaccinate our world, committing to international cooperation as the most fundamental way to address pandemics, and drafting a new Global Public Health Convention to serve as the worldwide health governance system to rapidly respond to future outbreaks.
If one nation is under threat from COVID-19 with no access to vaccines, all nations are in danger.