Health leaders have agreed that a world free of Covid-19 will not be possible until everyone has equal access to vaccines.
Developed countries are far more likely to vaccinate their citizens, which risks prolonging the pandemic, and widening global inequality.
Quite simply, it means that all people, wherever they are in the world, should have equal access to a vaccine which offers protection against the Covid-19 infection.
WHO has set a global target of 70 percent of the population of all countries to be vaccinated by mid-2022, but to reach this goal a more equitable access to vaccines will be needed.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said vaccine equity was “not rocket science, nor charity. It is smart public health and in everyone’s best interest.”
Apart from the ethical argument that no country or citizen is more deserving of another, no matter how rich or poor, an infectious disease like coronavirus will remain a threat globally, as long as it exists anywhere in the world.
Inequitable vaccine distribution is not only leaving millions or billions of people vulnerable to the deadly virus, it is also allowing even more deadly variants to emerge and spread across the globe.
According to the UN, vaccine inequity will have a lasting impact on socio-economic recovery in low and lower-middle income countries and set back progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
According to the UNDP, eight out of ten people pushed into poverty directly by the pandemic are projected to live in the world’s poorest countries in 2030.
Estimates also suggest that the economic impacts of corona may last until 2024 in low-income countries, while high-income countries could reach pre-coronavirus per capita GDP growth rates by the end of this year.
Research suggests that enough vaccines will be produced in 2021 to cover 70 percent of the global population of 7.8 billion.
However, most vaccines are being reserved for wealthy countries, while other vaccine-producing countries are restricting the export of doses so they can ensure that their own citizens get vaccinated first, an approach which has been dubbed “vaccine nationalism”.