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14 June, 2021 11:58:05 PM

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Declare Covid-19 vaccine technologies global public goods

Not only Bangladesh, many countries are suffering vaccination crisis as they do not get enough vaccines against the demand. Therefore, it is urgent to share vaccine technologies, patent and materials as global public goods so that many third world countries can meet their demands of vaccination in the quicker possible time.
Alaul Alam
Declare Covid-19 vaccine technologies global public goods

It is nearly two years since Covid-19 has gripped the world. Till then it has been doing multifarious havocs to the humanity.

Every sector is affected and counting huge loss in the Covid-induced world. By this time this pandemic has taught us many things. During the very onset of the pandemic it was our hope that with the invention of vaccine the world would free from Covid-19 clutches. But how far our assumption was appropriate, time has come to ponder over.

These days vaccine inequalities have been a great concern in the world. At present Covid-19 vaccines are being rolled out mostly among the developed countries in the first phase. 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. 

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 up vaccines for their entire population which is more than three to five times they need to vaccinate them all by the end of 2021, exposing dire inequalities.

Amid such a situation many countries are undergoing the second wave of Covid-19. The mysterious nature of coronavirus in many cases goes unabated. This time, Asian countries are bearing the most brunt of the pandemic. Bangladesh is not exceptional. In the country with its second wave, the rate of infection and death has increased manifold.

Things get tougher when we see that most of the bordering districts are faced with the high rate of infection and its spread in the community level is really alarming. On top of that, the Indian variant has been traced among some of the infected that has caused great concern among the concerned. To contain the spread of the virus district-wise lockdown is being strictly ensured but health guidelines in many cases are still disregarded in the countryside.

However, it is really worth mentioning that when many developing countries were undergoing vaccine struggles to vaccinate their population, our country was on track with its vaccination campaign. But it is unfortunate that though the country made advance payment to the Serum Institute of India for 1.5 crore jabs of vaccines, the vaccine campaign suffered a blow as with providing only 10.2 million units the Indian government halted its export of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

However, the government with its desperate attempt to keep the inoculation campaign ongoing contacted with China and purchased 15 million doses of vaccine with ease dose pricing 10 dollar. The shipments would be sent to the country in the three phases. The first phase containing 5 million of doses is expected to come by June 13.

Not only Bangladesh, many countries are suffering vaccination crisis as they do not get enough vaccines against the demand. Again we see that a few vaccine producing countries are the decision makers to supply vaccine across the globe. In this connection, those countries are given the priority, who can purchase vaccines with the going prices. So, ultimately many poor and middle income countries are leaving behind to cope with vaccine purchasing race.

In this situation it is urgent to share vaccine technologies, patent and materials as global public goods so that many third world countries can meet their demands of vaccination in the quicker possible time with producing vaccines in their lands. In Bangladesh context it is evident that our pharmaceutical companies are efficient enough to produce Covid-19 vaccine in the country if they are given the authoritative access along with patent and technologies of the vaccine.

But what we see in the real context that vaccines developed by Moderna, Pfizer, or AstraZeneca are not public goods. They are producing vaccines for commercial gains and they don’t have any interest to disclose the technologies of vaccine to the whole world. It is true that many developing countries are eager enough to purchase the vaccine technologies but the producing countries hardly have any response to this, which may worsen the global Covid-19 situation for many years excluding billions of people from inoculation.

If a nation comes under entire vaccination, can they think that they are safe and secured in combating the Covid-19 crisis? Obviously it is not, if one person of the world is left behind the immunization, the world can never be free from coronavirus. It is true that we are thinking of our own safety but this cannot be until global massive vaccination is ensured.

So it is time to help the countries across the globe provide vaccine technologies. Obviously such initiatives would solve vaccine crisis ultimately, leading to save the world and its population from the unprecedented coronavirus.

The writer teaches at Prime University. He is also research scholar at the IBS. Email: [email protected]

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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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