Annette Nabayi, 8th November 2021
Vaccine inequity explains how COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out in an unequal manner between advanced and developing economies. Presently, the European countries have recorded higher vaccination levels of their population while the African and other developing states have evidenced a 1% vaccination rate. Consequently, the EIU report on vaccine inequity predicts economic losses for the developed and developing nations resulting out of vaccine inequality. The unequal distribution of the vaccine globally might lead to a loss of $2.3 trillion GDP between 2022 and 2025. In this blog, I reflect on the findings of the report on vaccine inequity. I will outline the identified causes of vaccine inequity and then describe its impact on the developing world. Towards the end I will suggest some action steps.
Causes of Vaccine Inequity
The report states that vaccine inequity has been triggered by aspects such as shortage of raw materials resulting in lessened production abilities, specifically in developing states. Other aspects entail limited availability of finance which developing states can spend between meeting basic needs of its population and purchasing vaccines, reduced healthcare staff to administer the vaccines, poor infrastructure to transport the vaccines, and vaccine hesitancy.
Impact of Vaccine Inequity
The report projects that by mid-2022, many states will have vaccinated less than 60% of their citizens. Most countries in Europe, North America, South America, and China have already attained the 60% rate while two-thirds of African countries are yet to reach this rate will attain the 60% level from 2023 onwards. The states that have vaccinated less than 60% of their population will record a GDP loss of $2.3 trillion between 2022 and 2025. Countries in Asia will be highly affected with an estimated loss of $1.7 trillion while Africa will be severely impacted with an evaluated 3% level of the predicted GDP in 2022 to 2025. The need to increase the vaccination level to the recommended 60% degree will help in the dismissal of social distancing measures, increase in revenue from tourism and business travel activities, and preventing probable social unrest of prolonged struggle against COVID-19.
Bridging the Vaccine-Access Gap
The vaccine access gap might last long that anticipated only few vaccines have been distributed. COVAX is an initiative by WHO with a goal of providing equitable access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. It is to ensure all countries receive a fair share of vaccines under which 1.9 billion doses have been pledged. From the time of this pledge in 2020, only 210 million doses have been shipped to Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. COVAX will help bridge vaccine inequality through fair distribution of the vaccines. Advanced economies such as Russia that have pledged to provide vaccines to developing nations has evidenced production challenges hence the delivery delay. China’s pledge of vaccines has been adversely influenced by claims that the vaccines have low levels of protection. Seychelles had to impose lockdown after the inoculation of the China vaccine while Chile administered boosters to the inoculated China’s Sinovac vaccine.
The vaccine’s essence is to provide safeguards against infection. Therefore, the need to determine sustainable approaches to treat COVID-19. Currently, some states are formulating COVID strategies such as informed scientific input, strong political commitment, and decisive actions that might eliminate COVID.