Close the vaccination gap, in global lockstep

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : COVAX

Mains level : Paper 2- Dealing with the vaccine inequality

Why vaccination gap is cause of worry

  • By the end of May 2021, only 2.1% of Africans had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • A widely vaccinated world population is the only way to end the pandemic; otherwise, the multiplication of variants is likely to undermine the effectiveness of existing vaccines.
  • Vaccination is also a prerequisite for lifting the restrictions that are holding back our economies and freedoms.
  • If the vaccination gap persists, it risks reversing the trend in recent decades of declining poverty and global inequalities.
  • Such a negative dynamic would hold back economic activity and increase geopolitical tensions.
  • The cost of inaction would for sure be much higher for advanced economies than what we collectively would have to spend to help vaccinate the whole world.
  • The International Monetary Fund has proposed $50 billion plan in order to be able to vaccinate 40% of the world population in 2021 and 60% by mid-2022.

Need to resist the vaccine nationalism

  • To achieve the goal set by IMF, we need closely coordinated multilateral action.
  • We must resist the threat posed by linking the provision of vaccines to political goals and vaccine nationalism.
  • The EU has been vaccinating its own population, while exporting large volumes of vaccines and contributing substantially to the vaccines roll-out in low-income countries.
  • The EU has also exported 240 million doses to 90 countries, which is about as much as used within the EU.
  • One-third of all COVAX doses delivered so far have been financed by the EU.
  • India’s Vaccine Maitri is another example of global solidarity.
  • However, this effort is still far from sufficient to prevent the vaccination gap from widening.

Way forward

  • To fill widening vaccination gap, countries with the required knowledge and means should increase their production capacities, so that they can both vaccinate their own populations and export more vaccines.
  • All countries must avoid restrictive measures that affect vaccine supply chains.
  • We also need to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and technology, so that more countries can produce vaccines.
  • Voluntary licensing is the privileged way to ensure such transfer of technology and know-how.

Conclusion

The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that health is a global public good. Our common global COVID-19 vaccine action to close the vaccination gap must be the first step toward genuine global health cooperation, as foreseen by the Rome Declaration recently adopted at the Global Health Summit.

 

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