Politics and nationalism hinder global COVID-19 vaccination efforts

As the G7 ministers prepare to meet in Cornwall, England this week, there is a renewed call for increased global vaccine production, as well asDual-track pandemic“Because of the lag in vaccination in poorer countries, we prefer richer countries.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has long stated that when everyone is vaccinated against COVID-19, the pandemic will end. It initially hoped to vaccinate 20% of the world’s population by the end of 2021.This seems increasingly impossible, because 88% of the world’s No single dose yet, The provision of vaccines to many people in need is being hindered by politics and nationalism.

Rohinton Medhora, chairman of the International Center for Governance Innovation, said: “I would worry that 39 or 40 countries have only vaccinated 1% of their population,” he mentioned concerns about possible newer variants.

“These countries may not be on the tip of the tongues of Canadians and Americans every day. But as I said before, this is the source of bad things.”

Achal Prabhala is investigating access to drugs through AccessIBSA in Bangalore, India. He pointed out A point at the end of may When the course of the pandemic changes. In wealthier countries, the death toll from COVID-19 was initially higher, possibly because they tend to have an aging population. But with the advent of vaccines and their acquisition by rich countries, the death rate was lower than that of low-income countries for the first time. The poorest countries with the weakest infrastructure now have the most deaths and diseases.

Prior to this, the world “is experiencing the same problem,” Prabhala said.

Prabala added: “When poor countries are allowed to develop due to diseases that mainly affect them, it will mean that their conditions will be worse and there will be fewer resources to deal with this disease.”

Rohinton Medhora, chairman of the International Governance Innovation Center, said that he has seen that, based on the current vaccination rate, global herd immunity may not be achieved until 2023 or 2024. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Medhora said that international cooperation was essential to ending the pandemic, and pointed to the 20-year end of smallpox movement, which required the cooperation of the United States and the Soviet Union at the time, as a successful example.

“If we want to vaccinate every adult around the world, we will need about 1 to 12 billion doses of vaccine this year. The optimistic forecasts for all vaccine production we know add up to 10 billion doses,” Medhora said. “But it’s still [by] The end of the year. “

In addition, some wealthier countries are monopolizing vaccine supply.

“It is unlikely that just because we produced 10 billion, everyone who needs them will get them,” Medhora said.

He added: “The estimate I see is that if you want to achieve the goal that may be global herd immunity, we will look forward to the entire world from 2023 to 2024.”

Manufacturing problem

The Global Access to COVID-19 Vaccine (COVAX) is a global initiative to distribute doses supported by WHO and other health organizations and national governments to fill the gaps in countries that cannot produce vaccines or negotiate contracts on their own.It had promised to provide 237 million doses of vaccine to 142 countries by the end of May this year, but Can only ship 80 million(Canada that does not produce vaccines has Supported COVAX but also Draw from, The only G7 country to do so. )

COVAX and WHO are now calling on countries to donate excess doses to help make up for the shortage.

The United States announced that it will provide millions of doses, and the pharmaceutical company Pfizer said it will donate 2 billion doses next year. But the gap between countries with “has” and “no” vaccines remains a problem.

Watch | The COVAX President asks Canada and other countries to donate excess doses:

“From a COVAX perspective, we want to get them as soon as possible,” said José Manuel Barroso of Gavi. “At the same time, I understand that the government wants to ensure that they have enough resources for their people.” 8:21

For example, Bangladesh, with a population of 163 million, received its first batch of 100,000 Pfizer vaccines on May 31.

Prabhala said that part of the reason for the shortage of vaccines to certain countries directly or through COVAX is that manufacturing and distribution of vaccines is a complex business.

One of the problems is that vaccines are protected by intellectual property laws, and only facilities licensed by patented pharmaceutical companies can produce vaccines.

Prabala explained: “Therefore, someone must literally grant you a license to manufacture vaccines,” noting that manufacturers also need to obtain raw materials and infrastructure.

“Unless technology is shared, none of this will happen.”

Due to the special circumstances of the pandemic, some countries have called on members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to sign an exemption that allows other manufacturers to manufacture and distribute vaccines without a license from a patented pharmaceutical company.

US President Joe Biden supports this idea. However, most WTO countries, including Canada and Germany, NoAll WTO countries must vote for the exemption to pass.

Watch | Joe Biden supports the abandonment of vaccine patents:

In the debate on the removal of intellectual property protection, the Biden administration has joined the call for more sharing of the technology behind the COVID-19 vaccine to help speed the end of the pandemic. 3:35

“So what I’m doing now is saying that it’s great for us to start the conversation, but please, let’s end it, because there is still a long way to go before completion,” Prabala said.

“I think the vaccines we have on the market are not just developed by pharmaceutical companies,” Medhora added. “They have received substantial subsidies from taxpayers in many countries, including us. Therefore, some of the intellectual property rights are indeed in the public domain.”

Pharmaceutical companies argue that open patents will not accelerate vaccination due to lack of global manufacturing capacity and vaccine raw materials.

India is a global leader in vaccine manufacturing, and it was responsible for fulfilling COVAX’s COVID-19 vaccine contract before the country fell into a deadly second wave of epidemics. It cancelled export contracts and focused on manufacturing for its own population.

Countries waiting for COVAX vaccination, especially African countries, have fallen behind other countries that can negotiate contracts directly with vaccine manufacturers.

Prabala said: “One of the problems is that any country that wakes up very late to learn that it needs a large supply of vaccines is now behind the ranks.”

In response, on Tuesday, the MasterCard Foundation announced a Donated 1.3 billion U.S. dollars Work with the African Union Center for Disease Control to help bring more doses to the African continent. This money will help 50 million people get vaccinated and promote local vaccine production.

Achal Prabhala is researching drug acquisition with AccessIBSA in Bangalore, India. He said that the complexity of manufacturing and delivering vaccines is part of the reason for the shortage of delivery to some countries, whether it is a direct contract or through COVAX. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Global inequality

Unequal distribution of vaccines is not just a health issue. It caused economic problems and exacerbated turmoil.

In Venezuela, only 11% of the population was vaccinated once, and people protested and demanded that the government get more vaccines. Venezuela has not yet received any vaccines from COVAX, and AstraZeneca is rejected for health reasons, and the United States does not allow any vaccines donated to other countries to be used there.

Dr. Julio Castro, an infectious disease expert in Caracas, said that the country hopes to obtain 11 million doses of mRNA from COVAX between July and December.

At the same time, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced the arrival of vaccines from China and Russia last month and the start of a national vaccination campaign, but the weak health care system and infrastructure may hinder promotion. There are also concerns that the country’s deteriorating humanitarian crisis involves the exodus of large numbers of people, including doctors, as well as increasing malnutrition and calls for assistance.

Dr. Castro said that he sees that the vaccine black market is growing, with people selling vaccines online for hundreds of dollars and vaccinating them in people’s homes. “This is irregular, unethical, and it is dangerous for people.”

Dr. Julio Castro, an infectious disease expert in Caracas, said that the country hopes to obtain 11 million doses of mRNA by the end of the year. (Leo Alvarez)

In contrast, Nigeria’s dose depends on COVAX and the African Union. So far, less than 1% of the population has been vaccinated.

“Nigeria has some vaccines,” said Edwin Ikhuoria, the African executive director of the ONE campaign, an organization dedicated to eradicating preventable diseases. “But we have not distributed about 50% of it, just because the Nigerian government decided that we don’t know when the next batch will arrive.”

Ikhouria said that COVID-19 has had a major impact on Nigeria’s economy and exports have dropped sharply. The unemployment rate has risen to 33% and urgent action is needed.

In November 2020, 30-year-old Nafisat Iliyasu Adamu said: “I didn’t get any help from anyone, and I didn’t get any help from the government. I rely on myself.” Living in a hotel in Abuja.

“It’s terrible, how can a young woman like me live without a job?” she said, noting that the high unemployment rate has also led to an increase in crime and violence. She said people need to be vaccinated to restore the economy.

Nafisat Iliyasu Adamu of Abuja, Nigeria, said that the high unemployment rate caused by COVID-19 has also led to an increase in crime and violence. (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Ikhuoria said that if countries work together to help those who are in trouble, the best scenario is that the epidemic ends in 2022. If the government continues to adopt a nationalist approach, “we may continue to do this in the next four to five years.”

Although countries such as the United States and Canada are considering easing pandemic health measures, Ikhuoria said that officials must always pay attention to what is happening in other parts of the world so that no one is left behind.

“As long as this virus stays in those places, it will [will] Continue to mutate. If things go on like this, it will return to your own population, and all your previous efforts will be in vain. ”

He also presented economic arguments to help other countries promote.

He said: “Once the virus spreads elsewhere on the planet, everything Canada needs or should sell from these places will no longer exist.” “The sooner we respond to epidemics everywhere, the sooner the world will return to normal.”

Ikhuoria said that he hopes that the emotions of the beginning of a pandemic can help end the pandemic: we are all together.

Watch the full episode of “National” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Gem, CBC’s streaming service.

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