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While around 55% of people living in high-income countries have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, less than 1% of people living in low-income countries have been fully vaccinated (Nature, 9-15-21).
The World Health Organization (among others) have started a global effort to equally distribute a vaccine called Covax. Through a movement called Advanced Market Commitment, Covax’ goal is to provide vaccines to 92 lower-income countries. Covax has shipped 32.9 million vaccine doses to 70 countries and regions. However, this is just 6% of the 594 million doses that have been administered worldwide. On top of that, in late June, Covax sent about 530,000 of those doses to the U.K., which is more than double the number of doses sent to the entire continent of Africa. Despite being among the countries that had reserved most of the world’s vaccines, the U.K. still tapped into the small supply of Covax vaccines. Canada, Australia and New Zealand tapped into the Covax supply as well. This is unacceptable.
Plenty of people living in lower-income countries would get vaccinated immediately if they had the opportunity to do so. However, most of the vaccine doses are being hoarded by rich countries on the basis of vaccinating all of their citizens who could possibly want a dose. Venezuela has yet to receive any of its doses allocated by Covax, Haiti has received less than half of what it was allocated, and Syria received about a 10th of what it was allocated. Kenya has only administered 4.8 doses per 100 people so far and expects to vaccinate 30% of its population by 2023. That’s with Covax covering the first 20%, which seems to be unlikely at this rate.
Meanwhile, the U.K. has options to buy another 27 million shots through Covax. The U.K. has also made private deals to reserve eight injections for every U.K. resident. These deals have been made despite the fact that there are more than 90 developing countries that have almost no access to receiving and administering vaccine doses. On August 4th, the World Health Organization even called for a halt to booster shots for wealthier nations, in order to deliver first and second doses of the vaccine to poorer countries.
The US continues to dispute calls by the UN Health Agency to delay COVID-19 booster vaccine shots, due to the unacceptable lack of doses given to poorer countries. Meanwhile, China has already sent 770 million vaccine doses and announced on August 5th, that it had its own goal to send 2 billion doses to the rest of the world by the end of the year. China appears to be one of the few countries that is taking care of the extreme vaccination disparity.
Covax appears to be one of the only ways for lower-income countries to receive vaccine doses, yet it has delivered only 10% of the doses it promised. It is also trying to get rich countries to distribute their donated vaccines through its own system, but some countries are making their own deals to wield influence. This leaves people living in poorer countries virtually hopeless in fighting COVID-19 and susceptible to political influence from wealthier nations. Donations from wealthier nations are unreliable and insufficient and we must find a better way to equally distribute vaccine doses across the globe. The amount of vaccination doses promised by these nations simply aren’t being delivered.
Besides this, developing countries are being ravaged by the developing variants. Without vaccination rates rising, this will only continue to get worse. This is why we support the efforts of Congresswoman Jayapal and Congressman Pocan to promote global vaccination. See more information below.
Jayapal Calls For Action
Jayapal Leads Lawmakers in Calling for $34 Billion to Improve Global Vaccine Distribution (Jayapal, 7-23-21)
"Urge Congressional leadership to include funding in upcoming budget reconciliation bill, 'both to save lives and to reinforce America’s leadership in combatting the pandemic worldwide.'"
Biden’s plan to vaccinate the world won’t work. Here’s a better one (The Washington Post, 9-27-21)
This article is by Lawrence O. Gostin, a professor of global health law, Georgetown University. He also directs the World Health Organization Center on Global Health Law. His book "Global Health Security: A Blueprint for the Future" will be published in Oct. 2021.
In this article, Gostin discusses how President Biden has the power to prod drug companies to share their intellectual property and know-how
Letters to Biden
Urgent Letter to President Biden (Free the Vaccine, 9-20-21)
Campaigners to Biden: Stop Acting Like a Big Pharma ‘Puppet” and Help Vaccinate the World (Common Dreams, 9-20-21)
Mark Pocan's Bill
We Support Mark Pocan's Global Vaccination Bill (Earth Future Action)
The fight to manufacture COVID vaccines in lower-income countries (Nature, 9-16-21)
COVID Boosters for Wealthy Nations Spark Outrage (Nature, 7-30-21)
Global Vaccination Efforts
‘They rushed the process’: Vaccine maker’s woes hamper global inoculation campaign (Politico, 10-19-21)
The W.H.O. Urges Wealthy Countries to Halt Booster Shots and Send More Doses to Poorer Nations (New York Times, 8-4-21)
"The World Health Organization called on Wednesday for a moratorium on coronavirus vaccine booster shots until the end of September, so that vaccine supplies can be focused on helping all countries vaccinate at least 10 percent of their populations. "
‘Absolutely Unacceptable’ COVID-19 Vaccination Rates in Developing Countries- The Development Podcast (World Bank)
USAID’s COVID-19 Response (USAID)
Wealthy Countries Dipping Into Supply
See How Rich Countries Got to the Front of the Vaccine Line (New York Times, 3-31-21)
Rich Nations Dip into COVAX Supply While Poor Wait For Shots (AP News, 8-14-21)
Covid 19 Variants
Covid-19: Variants are Spreading in Countries with Low Vaccination Rates (The BMJ, 5-26-21)
Tracking Coronavirus Vaccinations Around the World (New York Times, 9-21-21)
More Than 5.17 Billion Shots Given: Covid-19 Tracker (Bloomberg, 9-20-21)
Reuters COVID-19 Tracker
Reuters COVID-19 Tracker- Nigeria