Declaring the C-19 vaccine equity
It is reported that more than 4.6 million people in the world have already died from coronavirus till the day. Even amid the vaccination we see people dying across the globe. It has been a universal claim that vaccine inequality is slowing down the Covid-19 response and the death rate could be decreased if there had been thebalance in the global vaccine accessibility.
At the very outset of the Covid-19 pandemic it was expected from every corner of the world that with the invention of vaccine, the world could be able to drive the unprecedented pandemic away. But in reality how far we have been? Again have we ever thought that coronavirus would be ravaging the humanity for long? For nearly two years the world has been undergoing Covid-19 crisis. New variants of coronavirus are attacking people across the world.
Countries are in a quandary to combat the consecutive waves of Covid-19. It has been so obvious with the time that driving mass vaccination has no alternatives to save the humanity from the Covid clutches. Undoubtedly, to save the humanity global vaccine cooperation is the demand of the day. Despite crying repeatedly, vaccine inequalityis so pervasive in the world. Global data reveals that in the race of mass vaccination Asian and African countries are bearing the most brunt. There are some countries in Africa where vaccination is yet to begin.
According to the Global Dashboard for Vaccine Equity, high and upper middle class countries have inoculated almost 90 per cent of their population while only 3.07 percent of doses have been administered in low-income countries. However, there may have a little exception in some cases. It is evident that there may be some developing countries trying to pursue vaccines from different organizations but the rich countries are taking the lion's share of the vaccines.
Truly, if this vaccine inequality continues, according to an estimation, nearly 70 poor countries will only be able to vaccinate one in ten people against Covid-19 next year. Consequently, massive vaccination would be a gigantic task that may need more five years to reach the Covid-19 vaccine to each home in the world. However, the WHO has set a global target to vaccinate at least 70 per cent population by mid-2022. How far this initiative will be successful unless global vaccine equity is ensured?
In the South Asian regions the position of Bangladesh in inoculating its people can be appreciating in many cases. When many countries with holding the same status like Bangladesh have found difficulties in vaccine accumulation, the country began inoculation of its people due to its strong diplomacy with the vaccine produced countries.
It is good to see that the country's vaccination campaign is ongoing. The report says that up to 9thAugust 2021 the country has inoculated over 19 million people. Undoubtedly, it is a great success for the country. On top of that, the country's initiatives to cover the eligible people under mass vaccination is ongoing but can we deny the challenge for the country to vaccinate its mass population in a short time? Certainly we cannot. To sustain vaccination campaign we have nothing but to continue vaccine diplomacy with the vaccine exporting countries.
Amid the South Asian countries, Bhutan has made an example to inoculate its ninety per cent eligible population until July 31, 2021. But unquestionably, it is one of the toughest works to inoculate the whole eligible population under the imported and foreign aided vaccines. Again, it is really frustrating that despite efforts, many capable countries have not been able to start producing vaccines in their countries due to the ongoing vaccine colonialism across the globe.
On top of that, inequitable vaccine distribution not only isleading billions of people to vulnerability but also causing a lasting impact on socio-economic recovery for many low and middle income countries which will ultimately disrupt them to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by the framed time.
However, in this dire situation there is no alternatives to strengthening vaccine cooperation. Actually it is not about merely increasing diplomacy and purchasing vaccines for the produced countries. On top of that, sharing vaccine technologies, patent and materials as global public goods are the demand of the days so that many third world countries can meet their demands of vaccination in the quicker possible time with producing vaccines in their lands.
Bangladesh is undoubtedly an eligible country to produce Covid-19 vaccine. Pharmaceuticals industries of the country have developed to a height. For many years the country has been exporting medicines and medicinal substances to different countries. It would not be a challenge for the country to vaccinate its eligible people in a short time if it had the scopes to produce Covid-19 vaccine locally.
But in reality it appears that the vaccine produced countries hardly have any intention to declare vaccine technologies as global public goods. In most cases they are producing vaccines for commercial gains. But if they do not come out of vaccine imperialism, the global vaccination campaign will continuously face a dire crisis and mass vaccination will be nothing but a nightmare, which may worsen the global Covid-19 situation for many years.
The question is pertinent to ask; can we vow to free the world from Covid-19 pandemic if any of the countries is deprived of massvaccination? Truly, mass vaccination is quite impossible without global vaccine cooperation.So, it is urgent to declare the global Covid-19 vaccine equity.
The writer is a teacher at Prime University and a research scholar at the IBS