Of the 39 million doses that have been administered to date globally, less than 1% have been applied in patients from poor countries, which is why the World Health Organization claims that the distribution of antidotes is more balanced and fair, in the face of what it warns, it can become a failure that vulnerable communities would pay with lives, due to the hoarding by the richest nations.
Apart from the vaccination schemes against Covid-19, the poorest countries seem to be remaining. They wait behind in the final positions of the waiting lists for the distribution of antidotes, as condemned to be the last to receive them. Against this background, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), warns that the failure of the strategy could cost thousands of lives.
And the fact is that the number of vaccination applications to patients from nations with fewer resources does not even reach 1%. It is estimated that, of the 39 million doses that have been administered, only 25 were destined for inhabitants of vulnerable communities, specifically in Guinea, which represents a scenario as hopeless as it is alarming.
“The world is on the brink of catastrophic moral failure and the price of that failure will be paid in lives and jobs in the poorest countries … It would not be fair for healthy young adults in rich countries to get vaccinated before they health workers and older people in the poorest countries can do it, “said the senior official during the opening event of the WHO Executive Committee.
The inequality in the distribution, which appears then as a kind of Achilles heel for the advancement of immunization, will be the central issue on which the members of said committee will debate for the next eight days, who will remain meeting to review what they do It remains for the history of 2009 not to repeat itself, in which the A-H1N1 flu vaccines did not reach the poorest countries until long after the crisis ended.
For Ghebreyesus, the one 11 years ago was a mistake that should not be made again, so this time equality in the distribution of drugs must be guaranteed, even more so in the face of the spread of the British variant, due to its greater contagion capacity, greater than 70% compared to that detected in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.
The consequences of bilateral agreements
Despite the fact that the COVAX platform was launched, which seeks that the vaccines are, in effect, distributed equitably and is coordinated by the WHO, the same institution criticized that some nations producing the antidotes would be giving it priority compliance with bilateral agreements with powerful territories, which would not only delay shipments to all countries, but would also raise the prices of doses.
The aforementioned platform’s goal is that developing nations can obtain the vaccines they require with the financial support of the richest, however, the evidence released in the first weeks of distribution suggests that developed territories would be monopolizing the doses.
Although cases of prioritizing the distribution of vaccines to groups that are not in the first line of risk have already been reported, the WHO insisted that there is still time to reverse this trend, which is why it called on the international community so that, in In the first three months of 2021, efforts are focused on the immunization of the elderly and health workers in all nations.
Statistically, the goal is for at least 20% of the global population to be vaccinated by the end of this year. So far, the 39 million doses created have been distributed in 49 countries in which a total equivalent to 0.5% of the world’s inhabitants has been immunized.
“The recent emergence of highly contagious coronavirus variants makes the rapid and equitable deployment of vaccines even more important, but now we face the real danger that while vaccines provide hope for some, it becomes another brick in the way. wall of inequality between those who have and those who have not, “said the director of the WHO.
The ranking of nations that have managed to apply the most vaccines is led by the United States, with 12 million; China, with 10 million; United Kingdom, with 4.3 million; and Israel, with 2.4 million.
Francisco Becerra: “That poor countries have access to the vaccine, a question of global equity”
In the case of America, the central and southern countries are at a great disadvantage in the face of the capture of about 90% of the doses by the United States and, according to what was explained to France 24 by Francisco Becerra, ex-deputy director of PAHO and a public health consultant, it is a matter of inequity.
Brussels’ call for transparency in vaccine purchase contracts
Within the framework of the debate on the vaccination strategy against Covid-19 in Europe, which took place this Tuesday, January 19 in the plenary session of Parliament, the European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides, declared that the Community Executive is advancing processes so that the laboratories with which the purchase contracts of the doses are signed make these agreements public, with the objective that they are given in a transparent way.
According to Kyriakides, although Europe is still far from overcoming the pandemic, advances in vaccination have made it possible to “turn a page”, so it is key that laboratories allow regulatory bodies to monitor the efforts openly.
Amid the questions about hoarding, the official assured that no country will be safe until the coronavirus is controlled on all continents and concluded that, thus, the European Union will play a crucial geopolitical role to promote the arrival of the doses to territories outside its border limits.
Meanwhile, thousands of kilometers from Belgium, elderly Latin Americans like Roberto Escobar, a 73-year-old unemployed Colombian who did not manage to add the years required to obtain his pension, wait for the start of vaccination, but recognize that the possibilities of accessing the antidote are not as clear and fast as in other countries that he describes as “more fortunate.”
With EFE, Reuters and local media