Rich nations to allow 100m Covid vaccines go waste
Representational Image. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
IN a shocking revelation, an analysis has projected that 100 million Covid-19 vaccines stockpiled by the world’s rich nations that are set to expire by the end of the current year could be left unused even as the poor nations struggle to get enough of their people inoculated against the deadly disease, prompting an outrage among social justice campaigners. They have even called it “an atrocity”.
According to a report in Common Dreams, a US-based news website, the estimate released on Sunday (19) by UK-based science analytics company Airfinity came as tracking by scientific online publication Our World in Data showed that a meagre 1.9 per cent of people in the world’s low-income nations have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The corresponding figure in the US is 63 per cent and the UK is 71 per cent.
Airfinity found that out of the 100 million vaccines set to expire by the end of 2021, the European Union holds 41 per cent and the US 32 per cent, the Common Dreams report said.
According to Global Justice Now, UK, the potential for the huge quantity of doses that could go unused is evidence of vaccine inequity and underscores the need for governments around the world to do much more to get the doses within access of the lower-income countries, including supporting a waiver of intellectual property rules related to the vaccines and technology.
“Rich countries like the U.K. are hoarding vaccines that are desperately needed in low- and middle-income countries. We should immediately hand doses over to Global South nations. But that alone will not be enough,” Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden said in a statement on Sunday.
“Wasting millions of doses that could be used to save lives would be an atrocity,” he said, adding, “but it’s almost inevitable when a handful of rich country companies monopolize vaccine production.”
Dearden also said: “Poorer countries shouldn’t have to wait until our doses are about to expire to vaccinate their populations. Many are capable of safely manufacturing vaccines if only we would waive intellectual property so vaccines can be produced patent-free in the countries that need them most.”
Lara Dovifat, campaign manager with MSF’s (Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders) Access Campaign, said in a statement in August, “Setting up mRNA vaccine manufacturing capacity in Africa is absolutely possible.”
She also spoke about MSF’s analysis demonstrating “that at least seven manufacturers in African countries currently meet the prerequisites to produce mRNA vaccines, if all necessary technology and training were openly shared.”
Airfinity’s revelation came ahead of a virtual summit this week on Covid-19 convened by US president Joe Biden as the member-states of the United Nations General Assembly gather for the 76th session.