Covid-19 vaccine's prolonged journey to developing nations threatens fast end to pandemic

19/1/2022 10:56:00 AM
Covid-19 vaccine's prolonged journey to developing nations threatens fast end to pandemic

Covid-19 vaccine's prolonged journey to developing nations threatens fast end to pandemic

https://str.sg/wQ9yMANILA (BLOOMBERG) - After losing her son to Covid-19 last year, 79-year-old Tomasa Valdez was desperate to get vaccinated. But on the remote Philippine island of San Salvador, where she lives, there were no shots to be had.Getting to the mainland, where vaccines were available, meant a boat ride that was arduous at her age and expensive given Ms Valdez's meagre income from drying sea grass which she sells for less than 100 pesos (S$2.60) a sack.

Help arrived in only December 2021 - 10 months after thePhilippines began its national Covid-19 vaccination programmeand about a year after Western nations like the US and UK started theirs. Even then, health workers had to travel via a wooden motorised boat, ferrying heavy vaccine storage equipment across the choppy South China Sea.

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India's main cities record sharp fall in Covid-19 infectionsNEW DELHI — India's capital Delhi and financial hub Mumbai have reported a big fall in Covid-19 infections in the past two days and most of those who contracted the virus have recovered at home, authorities said on Monday (Jan 17).

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Copy to clipboard https://str.LinkedIn NEW DELHI: India's capital Delhi and financial hub Mumbai have reported a big fall in COVID-19 infections in the past two days and most of those who contracted the virus have recovered at home, authorities said on Monday (Jan 17).Copy to clipboard https://str.BEIJING — China is battling Omicron and Delta outbreaks in several cities, testing the country's strict"zero-Covid" strategy just weeks before Beijing hosts the Winter Olympics.

sg/wQ9y MANILA (BLOOMBERG) - After losing her son to Covid-19 last year, 79-year-old Tomasa Valdez was desperate to get vaccinated. But on the remote Philippine island of San Salvador, where she lives, there were no shots to be had. It reported 7,895 infections late on Sunday, Mumbai's municipal corporation said. Getting to the mainland, where vaccines were available, meant a boat ride that was arduous at her age and expensive given Ms Valdez's meagre income from drying sea grass which she sells for less than 100 pesos (S$2. Hundreds headed to the Batu Caves temple complex outside Kuala Lumpur and walked barefoot up 272, multi-coloured steps to reach the site, carrying offerings such as milk pots.60) a sack. Both cities have said more than 80 per cent of their COVID-19 hospital beds have remained unoccupied since the fast-transmitting Omicron variant led to a massive surge in cases from the start of the year. Help arrived in only December 2021 - 10 months after the Philippines began its national Covid-19 vaccination programme and about a year after Western nations like the US and UK started theirs. Last week, carmakers Toyota and Volkswagen shut down their factories in the city.

Even then, health workers had to travel via a wooden motorised boat, ferrying heavy vaccine storage equipment across the choppy South China Sea. "In this situation, monitoring hospitalisation is more prudent; today's case can be next week's hospitalisation. Hindu devotee Krishnan Karuppan told AFP that he arrived at the temple before dawn. "Vaccines really have to be brought closer to the people, not the other way around," said Dr Noel Bueno, who inoculated Ms Valdez. While lack of supply was the biggest threat initially to the vaccination programs of developing nations, now it's logistics. Related: India starts booster shots for vulnerable amid Omicron surge Experts have attributed the low hospitalisations to high levels of previous infections and vaccination. Places like the Philippines are now struggling to get shots into the arms of their citizens, millions of whom live on distant archipelagos or far-flung mountain tops, under-served by roads, transport and basic infrastructure." Another worshipper at the temple, Mr Ariyenthiran T. Developed countries are getting to the point where they are choosing to live with Covid-19 and treat it as endemic, their hospital systems insulated by higher vaccination rates. The government has advised states to mainly ask only people with symptoms of COVID-19 to get tested instead of random checks like earlier that badly stretched resources, especially in the last major wave in April and May when millions were infected and tens of thousands died. The Tianjin outbreak has already spread to Anyang in Henan province and the coastal port of Dalian, Liaoning province.

But logistical issues continue to bedevil the rollouts of poorer countries, becoming one of the world's biggest public health challenges as the pandemic enters into its third year. The Philippines has one of Asia's lowest vaccination rates, with only about half of its population receiving two shots, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.38 million - the most in the world after the United States.. Its limited and costly testing apparatus, fragmented tracing program and fragile health system have made it hard to stamp out outbreaks despite several economically devastating lockdowns. In recent days, the country has posted record daily case increases, potentially due to the spread of the ultra-contagious Omicron strain. Only the United States and Brazil have reported more total COVID-19 deaths. The hurdles that developing nations face in widening the reach of their inoculation programs - which can extend beyond logistics to issues of vaccine hesitancy and social media rumours - are likely to stymie global efforts to contain the virus." Local media reported that the authorities were limiting attendance at the temple to several thousand over Thaipusam, which officially falls on Tuesday. GUANGDONG The southern province, home to several major manufacturing hubs in the heavily populated Pearl River Delta, is battling simultaneous Omicron and Delta outbreaks in at least four cities, leading to targeted lockdowns and mass testing.

New strains can proliferate in under-vaccinated populations and lengthen the pandemic as the emergence and spread of the Delta and Omicron variants in India and Africa have shown. Developing nations face a"combination of challenges in hard infrastructure in the form of trucks, freezers but also soft infrastructure in the form of logistics staff, vaccine administrators, and adequate planning", said Dr Prashant Yadav, a senior fellow at the Washington and London-based Centre for Global Development, who specialises in supply chains."But these are all surmountable barriers and we have managed to overcome them for the Ebola vaccine, and many other outbreak vaccines. Most of Malaysia's roughly 32 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims but the country also has around two million ethnic Indians, many of whom are Hindu." While the US government and international agencies have begun efforts to support developing countries, more high-income countries need to step in, he said."Remote regions have poorer health-care infrastructure in terms of oxygen, ICU beds so if someone does get severe Covid the ability to treat them is weaker," Dr Yadav said. All tourist attractions were closed and long-distance bus and water transport routes suspended.

"From that standpoint it becomes important to reach remote areas early. Lord Murugan is particularly revered in southern India and among ethnic Tamil communities in South-east Asia." To help address these logistical woes, the US, through its Agency for International Development, pledged US$315 million (S$425 million) for mobile vaccination sites for hard-to-reach rural areas, and to invest in cold-storage facilities. For much of last year, developing nations faced difficulty getting access to the most effective vaccines, which were initially hoarded by Western countries for their own use. The Philippines first relied on shots from China's Sinovac Biotech, which have been shown to be less potent than the mRNA shots being used in the US, particularly against the Omicron variant. In recent months, many of its supply problems have eased and the Philippines now has a stockpile of shots. Meanwhile, the cities of Anyang and Yuzhou have been placed under lockdown, affecting around six million residents.

More mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are now being administered in the South-east Asian country, particularly to young people. But its logistical challenges have lingered. Other low- and middle-income nations are grappling with challenges of their own. More On This Topic .