For balance in world vaccine situation

Published January 26, 2021, 11:53 PM

by Manila Bulletin

 Mass vaccination against COVID-19 has begun in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and several other countries which have been able to acquire millions of doses of the vaccines for their  people. These nations had paid in advance even before the vaccine companies had completed their tests and won approval for their products.

“Wealthy nations have bought up enough doses to  vaccinate their  entire populations nearly three times over by  the end of 2021 if those currently in clinical trials are all approved for use,” the Peoples Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of organizations including  Oxfam, Amnesty International, and Global Justice Now, said.

Speaking at the 148th session of the  Executive  Board of the World  Health Organization (WHO)  last  week,  WHO chief Tedros  Adhanom  Ghebreyesus said  that “even as vaccines bring hope to some, they have become another brick in the wall of inequality between the world’s haves and have-nots.”

“Even as they speak the language of equitable access, some countries and companies continue  to prioritize  bilateral deals…   driving up prices, and attempting to jump to the front of the queue,” the WHO official said.  Most manufacturers have prioritized regulatory  approval in rich countries, where profits are higher, rather than submitting their dossiers to WHO for prequalification.”

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, speaking  in a ceremony  for the world’s developing nations in New York City, said, “We need manufacturers to step  up their commitment to work with the COVAX facility and countries around the world, in particular the world’s leading economies, to ensure enough supply and fair distribution.”  He added, “Vaccinationalism is self-defeating and would delay a global recovery.”

Our own President Duterte  had this to say in  a pre-recorded speech aired before the UN General Assembly last December 4:  “If any country is excluded by reason of poverty or strategic unimportance, this gross injustice  would haunt the world for a long time. It would  completely discredit the values upon which the United Nations was founded.”

Philippine vaccine czar Calito Galvez Jr.  has said that 80 percent of the world’s coronavirus vaccine supply has been secured by rich nations. The Philippines expects to get its supply of at least  22.6 million doses  of AstraZeneca vaccine after the government and private firms signed a deal last November 27,                           0020 c but we expect them only around May. The country  has been assured by  China and Russia of supplies of their vaccines.

Amid all these reports of.  the world’s rich nations having cornered most of the  world’s available supplies of vaccines,  a study commissiond by the International Chamber of Commerce said that  rich nations in North America and Europe may have locked up most of the supply of available vaccines but  “No economy will be fully recovered unless the other economies are recovered.” In failing to ensure that  people  in the developing world would also gain access to the vaccines, leaders in the wealthiest  nations are damaging  their  own fortunes, the study concluded.

It is hoped  that  the study will help bring about some balance in the present vaccine supply situation which is now heavily loaded  against the world’s poor nations.