The vaccines are finally here and millions have already been given the shots of much awaited Covid-19 vaccines. But there arebillions of people who are still waiting for vaccines but might never receive one. While there are several nations like India that have made their own vaccines, there are also the ones that are still dependent on others to buy the vaccine for their country.
South Africa being Africa’s worst-hit country, is buying Oxford’s AstraZeneca vaccine at a rate of nearly twice the per-unit price of European countries. Canada has purchased more doses per head than anyone else. It is enough to vaccinate every single citizen five times. Meanwhile, the African continent that is home to 1.3 billion people – has been allocated a total of 300m doses.
As per the Guardian, rich countries with 14% of the world’s population have secured 53% of the best vaccines – while research suggests, nine out of 10 people in poor countries may never be vaccinated at all.
Unequal Race for the Vaccine
In this race of acquiring vaccines, the rich countries of the world are already far ahead of their slower peers. Health activists across the globe warned about this possibility when the prospects of a successful vaccine came to light.
Many voiced their opinions that without more robust attempts at holding political, pharmaceutical, and health leaders accountable, vaccines will be hoarded by rich countries in an unseemly race to inoculate their populations first.
Money Controls Health
Many wealthy nations have already placed excessive orders with pharmaceutical companies. A study by the Global Health Innovation Center, Duke University, found that rich countries have stored up billions of doses of coronavirus vaccines, leaving developing countries without the capability of vaccinating their people, some as late as 2024. It also stated that high and middle-income countries have already purchased 3.8 billion doses, with options for 5 billion more.
The Political Picture
Israel set an example for the world when it was administering over 150,000 doses of vaccine in a day in the dawn of the new year. But it is purposefully, not vaccinating the Palestinian people it occupies. When asked about it, the Israeli health minister said that Israel had no legal obligation to vaccinate Palestinians.
On the other hand, Israel wants to gift its surplus supply of Moderna vaccines to countries that moved their embassies to Jerusalem (or have promised to), such as Hungary, the Czech Republic and Honduras.
COVID-19 Vaccine Nationalism
China and Russia on the other hand are practising vaccine diplomacy. China offered free doses of their vaccines to 13 countries. China and Russia have supplied more than 800m doses to 41 countries. This hasn’t been done out of charity or goodwill, but it’s a clear, resounding sign of the changing world order. The US and UK have given nothing at all.
It is high time that rich and powerful countries stop flexing their deep financial pockets and work collectively with small and developing nations to take humanity out of the hole that is the COVID-19 pandemic. That seems like the only successful way for everyone to succeed in such tumultuous times.