Why vaccinating the world against COVID-19 is a monumental undertaking

Why vaccinating the world against COVID-19 is a monumental undertaking.

6/8/2021 4:47:00 PM

NEW: As of June 1, 38.5% of all COVID vaccine doses had gone to just 16% of the world's population, according to an ABC News' analysis. Read more about the challenges of access and equity in the effort to inoculate the world against COVID:

Why vaccinating the world against COVID-19 is a monumental undertaking.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said it’s to be expected that countries prioritize vaccinating their own people. “We knew there was going to be a different timescale for vaccine distribution throughout the world,” he said. The U.S. was particularly pro-active with funding towards vaccine development, through Operation Warp Speed, and pre-purchase agreements.

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"Some of the other interference that occurred with export and import restrictions, made it worse," Adalja said.Charles Mcquillan/Getty ImagesHelicopter transport of vaccines in Ireland: Nurses Margaret Lavelle, left, and Louise Fleming, right, take delivery of COVID-19 vaccines from an Irish Air Corps crew member on May 18, 2021 in Inishbofin, Ireland, which is home to approximately 180 people.

The European Union cracked down on exporting vaccines to non-EU countries, including the U.K., until delivery agreements were met for its members, including import restrictions for countries including India, which mandated vaccine ingredients be manufactured locally, headtopics.com

Reuters reported.But the reality is that some countries have their own vaccine manufacturing capacities while others don’t. Some governments have exacerbated the problem with protectionist stances.“There is no diplomatic way to say it: a small group of countries that make and buy the majority of the world’s vaccines control the fate of the rest of the world,” Tedros said in an opening speech at the organization's annual World Health Assembly on May 24.

The need to vaccinate globallyCountries are also grappling with vaccine hesitancy, slow regulatory processes in some, supply shortages, leadership failures, and a lack of urgency regarding vaccinations in places, including Japan and Australia, where mitigation measures were more successful, at least initially.

Pool/ReutersJapan is ramping up it's vaccination program:  The initial success combating COVID-19 has given way to a surge of cases that threatens to derail plans for the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer. Nurses wait to process people to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a newly-opened mass vaccination center in Tokyo, May 24, 2021.

There is a danger to a slow vaccine rollout. The global population and economy continue to be at risk as the virus mutates, creating more transmissible forms. This reality is playing out in countries such as India and Brazil which are suffering from surges with high death tolls and health care systems on the verge of collapse. headtopics.com

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Michael Dantas/AFP via Getty ImagesBrazil has had a high death toll from COVID-19: Graves of COVID-19 victims are seen at the Nossa Senhora Aparecida cemetery in Manaus, Amazonas state, Brazil on April 29, 2021.Developed countries that are deploying the vaccine more effectively should be concerned with what’s happening around the world not only for humanitarian reasons, but also out of self-interest, is the opinion of some experts including Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Otherwise, “you could have a new variant spring up that could evade the protection of our current vaccines the longer the pandemic continues,” Schaffner said.Tafadzwa Ufumeli/Getty ImagesAt-risk population vaccinated in Zimbabwe: Seniors queue for the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccination outside a tent while nurses conduct their duties at a local hospital on March 29, 2021, in Harare, Zimbabwe.

The only way to make COVID-19 a manageable respiratory disease that does not require hospitalization is to vaccinate as many people as possible, particularly high-risk populations, according to Adalja.What can be doneEfforts on a country, state and local level to reach as many people as possible have included mass vaccination sites at stadiums, museums and other public venues. Health workers are traveling by boat, helicopter, and going door to door -- using any means necessary to reach outlying communities and vulnerable people in their homes, places of worship and even barber shops. The latest effort in the U.S. has included multi-million dollar lotteries and offering college scholarships. The larger question of more equitable distribution globally remains a troubling challenge.

Jose Luis Gonzalez/ReutersVaccines on a bus in Mexico: Assembly factory workers in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico receive a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, May 24, 2021.Gonzalo Fuentes/ReutersCOVID-19 vaccines in a velodrome in France: The national cycling team trains as people wait to get a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the indoor Velodrome National of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines in Montigny-le-Bretonneux, France, March 26, 2021. headtopics.com

Though the Biden administration has stated its support for waiving intellectual property protections for vaccines, the EU and U.K. continue to oppose the idea. Pharmaceutical companies are not onboard either and there’s debate about how much a waiver would help widen distribution of vaccines.

COVAX, a multibillion-dollar WHO-backed program, was created to help lower-income countries obtain vaccines and provide equity in distribution. The aim is to prioritize vaccinations of front-line health care workers and pool a supply of vaccines. It’s a recognition of the need for an international mechanism to get vaccines to the developing world and deal with the current pandemic and future health crises, Dr. Adalja said. The main supplier was India, but as the country struggles with more than 337,000 confirmed deaths and vaccinating its own population deliveries of vaccines have been suspended by the Serum Institute of India.

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There are efforts now to ramp up global distribution to poorer nations as countries such as the U.S. get the pandemic more under control.Michael Dantas/AFP via Getty ImagesOn the banks of the Rio Negro in Brazil: Olga D'arc Pimentel, 72, is vaccinated by a health worker with a dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in the Nossa Senhora Livramento community on the banks of the Rio Negro near Manaus, Brazil on Feb. 9, 2021.

In May, the virtual Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment Summit, hosted by Japan and global vaccine alliance Gavi, secured nearly $2.4 billion in funding commitments from governments and the private sector. Japan pledged $800 million to COVAX along with other commitments from countries such as Australia, Norway and Switzerland. The Gates Foundation also pledged funds.

The Biden administration has committed to distributing 80 million vaccine doses globally by the end of June. On June 3, President Joe Bidenannounced plansfor the first 25 million doses to be donated with 75%, or nearly 19 million of that, to be shared through COVAX and the remaining 6 million to go to countries experiencing surges. The U.S. also committed to donating $4 billion to COVAX in February.

Read more: ABC News »

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The unequal distribution of Covid19 vaccines hampers global efforts to curb the pandemic. Only when vaccines reach the most needed, can the world beat the virus. How much water can a bucket hold depends on the lowest wood board not the longest. I am sick of all these millionaires and billionaires being greedy and not paying taxes!!! It’s time to pass a bill or law in taxing the rich!!!

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