The disparity between the haves and have nots is not new in the world, rather the poor and vulnerable communities have been enduring all sorts of inequalities since the beginning of human dominance. Conflict among the races, communities and above all the countries complicate the global priorities such as combating pandemics which need to be tackled with united efforts of the global communities.
It was thought that the poor countries would be left behind coping with the vaccine race when the nations were concentrating to develop Covid-19 vaccine.
When some developed countries went on investing huge finance to ensure rapid vaccination for their population, poor nations hardly had any activeness in the procurement that was hinting at injustice in Covid-19 vaccination when ready for use.
As soon as the Covid-19 hit hard the world, the most vulnerable were the countries of poor and middle income status as they were undergoing huge crisis of testing kit and other medical equipment because they had to depend on other countries to ensure all those. But it is evident that some countries despite many limitations have managed the crisis to the optimum level while many rich countries were found vulnerable.
However, a few vaccines have been shown safe and effective in large-scale clinical trials. Among them Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and the Oxford and AstraZeneca group are confirmed to be safe. They have been reported safe and effective across a wider range of groups.
At present Covid-19 vaccines are being rolled out mostly among the developed countries in the first phase and there may be some developing countries who are trying to pursue vaccines from different organizations but the rich countries are taking the lion’s share of the vaccines.
It is estimated that more than 30 million vaccine doses have already been administered in 47 mostly high-income countries. But the global vaccination programme is undergoing glaring inequalities in accessing this life-saving tool.
Truly, if this vaccine inequality continues, according to an estimate, nearly 70 poor countries will only be able to vaccinate one in 10 people against Covid-19 next year. Consequently, massive vaccination would be a gigantic task that may need more five years to reach the covid-19 vaccine to each home in the world.
Report says that wealthier nations have bought vaccines for their entire population which is more than three to five times they need to vaccinate them all by the end of 2021 if those currently in clinical trials are all approved for use exposing huge inequalities in vaccine distribution across the globe.
But if a nation comes under entire vaccination, can they think that they are safe and secured in combating the Covid-19 crisis? The answer is obviously no. If one person of the world is left behind the immunization, the world can never be free from Covid-19. It is true that we are thinking of our own safety but this cannot be until global massive vaccination is ensured.
It is true that the vaccination is an ongoing process but without effective policies we cannot address the global issue. Besides, the approval of the first few vaccines cannot cover the vaccination amid the entire globe. We know that more vaccines are in the pipeline waiting for approval. After those being approved, the first and foremost task should be to ensure enough doses to vaccinate everyone.
In these days, debates over the world surge with the question of how to distribute vaccines to world community quickly and equitably. One thing has widely been accepted that health workers should be vaccinated first, because they are needed to save the lives of those who are ill because of the virus.
But who will be given priority next for the vaccination is still debatable across the globe? However, one relevant fact is that people over 65 have a higher risk of dying from Covid-19 than younger people do, and those over 75 are at even higher risk.
In most cases it is tough to identify what factors are being considered to distribute Covid-19 vaccines among the nations. Are the worst vulnerable countries getting priority to vaccines? Is there any age boundary to be considered for immunization around the globe?
Surprisingly, how unfortunate the people of poor countries! It is found that thousands of volunteers from low-income nations in Africa helped to develop several vaccines during trials. But they have hardly access to Covid-19 on priority basis.
Certainly, not only are the inequalities exposing in regard to health issue but there may be a devastation on global economy. Studies find that leaving low and middle income countries without access to vaccines amid Covid-19 crisis may cause significant economic damage putting decades of economic progress at risk for both the developed and developing countries.
Moreover, there are some challenges that will cause more havoc in this regard. For example, transporting vaccines to remote areas can be a logistical nightmare. Things may get tougher with the lack of vaccine deployment and proper management. Maintaining the cold chain is vital to maintain the required temperature in which the vaccine shall remain effective. For many poor and technologically impoverished countries, it would be tough task to maintain cold chain. Again, if the preservation is faulty, vaccination among the population will be fruitless.
However, to end up all disparities in regard to vaccine deployment, it is imperative to conduct critical research on administering vaccines in different target populations, as well as on vaccination delivery strategies and schedules. In regard to ensure vaccine distribution and implementation, global collaboration is a must where every country irrespective of holding lower and higher economic status and power should be considered in accordance with global strategies to meet up the prevailing crisis on vaccination.
More importantly, many vaccine candidates have to come up with effective outcome through large scales of trials and many companies and organizations should invest finance to meet up the rapid demand of vaccines around the world to ensure mass vaccination.
The writer teaches at Prime University. Email: [email protected]