UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he expected leaders of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations to agree to provide at least 1 billion vaccine doses for poor countries. G-7 leaders, who are holding their annual meeting in Cornwall, south-west England, this weekend, continue to debate other forms of aid to get the life-saving vaccine up in arms.
While nearly half of the combined population of G-7 countries have received at least one dose of the vaccine, worldwide the figure is less than 13%. In Africa, it is just 2.2%.
Wealthy nations must not only act out of altruism, but also act to protect their own citizens, as the virus will continue to mutate unless it is allowed to spread unchecked, potentially resulting in There are more dangerous forms, said Lily Caprani, head of COVID-19 vaccine advocacy for UNICEF.
“(This) now requires political will and immediate action,” Caprani told the Associated Press. “That’s why I think we should all urge our leaders to do it, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s a smart thing, and that’s the only way.”
But economists at the International Monetary Fund recently estimated that it would cost $50 billion to vaccinate 60% of the world’s population by the middle of next year, and that achieving that goal could generate $9 trillion in additional economic output by 2025. Will happen.
Those urging rich countries to do more to make vaccines available around the world argue that it would be a worthwhile investment in human capital.
Robert Yates, director of the global health program at Chatham House, said, “If we do this, and everyone is saying this is the deal of the century, then about 60% of those resources need to come from the rich countries in the G-7.” is.” A London-based public policy think tank.
Countries such as the United States and Britain secured supplies of several COVID-19 vaccines while they were still in development, hoping to guarantee shipments of any successful candidates. Regulators approved that many shots, leaving them with enough doses to vaccinate their entire population two or three times.
Now they are under pressure to make the shot available to low-income countries immediately and not to wait until they can vaccinate younger age groups in their own countries. COVID-19 is at greatest risk for older people and those with underlying health conditions, who account for the vast majority of those who die from the disease.
Ahead of the G-7 meeting, the IMF, the World Health Organization, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization said the group’s top priority should be to end the pandemic and achieve global economic recovery.
“The current approach to COVID-19 vaccination—using limited vaccine supplies to protect low-risk populations in a handful of countries while low- and middle-income economies wait indefinitely for doses— Makes no sense,” World Bank President David Malpass wrote last month. “A successful global vaccination effort must be justified.”
But vaccines alone are not enough to accomplish the task.
Vulnerable health care systems in low-income countries need equipment, training and logistics support to mount the turbocharged mass vaccination programs that have been successful in Europe and North America.
The UK, for example, turned to its National Health Service for staff and took over cathedrals, stadiums and museums as mass vaccination centres. More than 60% of the UK population and about 80% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
While infections, hospitalizations and deaths have all fallen with the success of the UK vaccination programme, public health officials are still concerned about new forms that could prove more resistant to existing vaccines. The government has recently banned most travel from India to slow the spread of the delta variant discovered there.
Epidemiologists say the best way to avoid potentially dangerous types is to vaccinate the most vulnerable around the world as soon as possible.
“Talking is cheap, and talking won’t work,” said Jeevan Sandher, a former UK government economist studying inequality at King’s College London. “A subtle statement of our ambitions and commitment to global cooperation is simply not going to come true. We absolutely need to see the check. Take out those pens and start signing.”
Developing countries are calling on the US, Britain and the European Union – where the most widely used vaccines were developed – to relax patent protections and provide technical support so they can produce the shots for themselves.
The Biden administration has backed the temporary waiver of patent protections, saying “extraordinary times and circumstances demand extraordinary measures.” But the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, has opposed such a move, arguing that government aid and voluntary licensing agreements to vaccine manufacturers are the best way to increase supplies.
The decision on the matter will come from the World Trade Organization.
Activists argue that the technology should be transferred to developing countries to produce vaccines and COVID-19 treatments for themselves, reducing their reliance on manufacturing elsewhere.
Daphne Jaisinghe of the International Rescue Committee said the debate is taking place against the backdrop of the UK government’s decision to cut spending on international aid, “which is deeply affecting health services in the countries where they are most needed.”
“Promises of additional vaccines are certainly welcome… but they should be accompanied by more action,” Jaisinghe said. “We would like to see other G-7 member states have similar commitments to share vaccines, but this needs to go with the infrastructure and health services to deliver those vaccines.”