COVID-19: The race for vaccine equity, By Cassandra Akinde

COVID-19: The race for vaccine equity, By Cassandra Akinde

9/25/2021 6:40:00 PM

COVID-19: The race for vaccine equity, By Cassandra Akinde

The inequitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines is one of the biggest threats to ending the pandemic and restarting economic recovery.

COVID VaccineIt is clear that we cannot talk about global recovery without an end to COVID-19 vaccine inequity. Though world leaders and governments may have missed the mark on vaccine equity earlier, the mistakes can still be rectified through equitable and widespread access to COVID-19 vaccinations.

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“We are in a three-way race between the vaccine, the virus and the variants and so far, the virus and variants are winning.”– Dr Ayoade AlakijaI understand the role vaccines play in health equity but what is the use of vaccines without vaccinations?When the year 2021 began, it brought lots of hope and optimism, as vaccines were being rolled out globally. However, the inequitable distribution of

COVID-19 vaccinesquickly became one of the biggest threats to ending the current COVID-19 pandemic and restarting global economic recovery.As of September 7, only 40 per cent of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, compared to the United Kingdom and the United States, with more than

50 per cent of their populationshaving received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Africa has received2 per cent of vaccinesadministered globally. The crisis wasworsenedby India’s decision to divert vaccines from the Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturing facility, which had been earmarked for export, to deal with the country’s own COVID-19 emergency.

Recently, in thejoint statementbyUNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore and WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, they stated that in the COVID-19 race, we either win together or lose together.Therefore, the hoarding of vaccines can be incredibly short-sighted, as this unequal access may prolong the pandemic through new variants such as Delta. This is rapidly becoming one of the most dominant variants around the world, causing huge surges in many parts, from Europe to Asia, South America and Africa.

The importance of investing in health has only been re-emphasised by this pandemic and it is time for politicians and leaders to act quickly. Building back health systems better requires the support of every sector. Governments everywhere must invest in their health systems to strengthen primary healthcare. This is highly imperative because many countries did not invest adequately in epidemic preparedness prior to the pandemic.

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