“Ending the pandemic is possible — and requires global action now,” the heads of the World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) wrote in a jointly penned op-ed in a newspaper.
The world and its developed nations aim to have vaccinated the majority of their adult population by late summer.
Whereas much poorer Asian, African, or Latin American countries have not even been able to launch their vaccination campaigns due to the lack of funds and resources.
According to a recent study in the medical journal The Lancet, the world’s richest countries have safeguarded some 70% of supplies of the five top COVID vaccines in spite of having less than 16% of the globe’s population. According to the WHO, only 0.2% of the population in poorer countries have been vaccinated against SARS-COV2.
Similarly, The Economist estimates that mass vaccinations will not start there until 2024 at the earliest if programs continue at this pace.
The initiative COVAX, co-organized by the WHO, is meant to work on the road to more unbiased access to COVID-19 vaccines. But from the onset, richer countries have signed instantaneous bilateral contracts with several vaccine producers and — apart from a few substantial donations — swept the market clean.
“The pandemic is far from over,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned. He has strongly condemned the huge discrimination in the distribution of vaccines between poor and rich countries.
On the contrary, if the coronavirus variants continue to spread as rapidly as they are and to adapt to their human hosts, that inequality could come home to roost for wealthier nations.