THE SPOTLIGHT ON VACCINE EQUITY
As we ring in the new year, the world faces new challenges spurred on by the pandemic. The emergence of new mutations has forced world leaders to rethink their response to pandemic-related crises. One thing remains clear however, leaders must renew their commitments to the global vaccine rollout to avoid future epidemiological disasters. The promise alone of vaccine donations and monetary funding from predominantly global North leaders has done little to fully address the troubling global vaccination figures. Equity should remain at the heart of the vaccine roll out as we move into 2022. Equity must move from a hollow sound to being at the heart of the global strategy. As of December 2021, the WHO’s new pandemic assessment warned that Africa may not reach 70 percent vaccine coverage until 2024. Furthermore, vaccine rates in the global North remain disproportionate to those in other parts of the world – in Burundi for example, a country with the lowest vaccination rate in Africa has only 0.03 percent (per 100 people) of its population vaccinated. In Bulgaria, the nation with the lowest vaccination rate in Europe has 51.09 percent (per 100) of its population vaccinated. These are alarming statistics. It was also recently reported that more than 50 countries missed the WHO’s target for having 10 percent of their populations vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of September 2021. Limited supply chains and weakened healthcare infrastructure can account for this missed target. The difficulties in procuring vaccines is identified in a UK Parliamentary research brief on Covax and the global access to Covid-19 vaccines as the reason for this missed target. In the same report, the global initiative
World leaders must be more committed to delivering on their pledges and make their pledges much more ambitious than they are currently. For instance, the UKs target of providing 30,000,000 doses by 2021 and a remaining 70,000,000 by the end of 2022 does not compare to The United States’ ambitious pledge of donating 1.1 billion doses. The inaction of governments will prove detrimental in the long run and delay the main route out of the pandemic. The financial downturn caused by the pandemic will continue to increase global poverty and instability and inequality will continue to slow down development. Vaccine hesitancy has also been a cause for concern for researchers who worry about new variants emerging. Despite the growing concern of vaccine hesitancy in high to middle income countries amongst researchers, the lack of vaccine access in low income countries is a far greater concern. Global leaders must look towards a post-covid-19 future.
In 2021 we were proud to support the ONE Campaign in its work on vaccine equity, and we are supporting project management for the replenishment of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).