Speaking of vaccinating the world, we must solve the distribution problem

Speaking of vaccinating the world, we must solve the distribution problem


Covid-19 vaccine update

In recent weeks, Covid-19 has brought new unease to American investors. Not only is the Delta variant spreading, but vaccine hesitation still plagues parts of the country. elsewhere, focus on It is being discussed whether Joe Biden’s administration can actually launch boosters this fall as promised.

This is worrying. But when investors scrutinize the White House’s vaccine plan, they should also pay attention to another set of vaccine launch issues: those that plague low-income countries.

Eighteen months after the pandemic, there was a gap in vaccination rates. In most of Europe and North America, About two-thirds of the population are now vaccinated (Although less in the United States). Japan and India assassinated half and one-eighth of their population respectively.

But in most African countries, less than one-tenth of the population is vaccinated-in some countries, Less than 1%This partly reflects the well-known inequality of vaccine supply (international agencies Kovacs Efforts are being made to resolve, although the results have been mixed). However, there is another problem that is often overlooked: insufficient distribution logistics.

Take South Sudan as an example. This poor country has recently been — long overdue — received some vaccinations. However, its distribution infrastructure is so weak that the cost of stabbing a person (or last mile delivery) from the tarmac to the arm is as high as $22 per person, excluding the purchase price of the vaccine. According to the calculation of Charity CYes.

Care noted that this is six times higher than the current estimated global vaccine delivery cost. One of the cruel ironies of Covid-19 is that the countries least able to pay for distribution costs are facing some of the highest price tags.

This is having practical consequences. Care said about 132,000 doses of vaccine had to be destroyed or returned in South Sudan this summer because they could not be distributed. The situation is getting better now-one touch. But the country’s jab rate is still well below 1%.

For those who are waiting on the ground, this is a tragedy. But the consequences can be wide-ranging.In the past 18 months, scientists have realized that one of the most annoying aspects of Covid-19 is that it is a “transfiguration”, as the famous American medical researcher William Haseltine put it Pointed out In his book Variants.

Therefore, the longer the unvaccinated population stays in the world, the greater the risk of the emergence and spread of new mutations. Solving the problem of “tarmac to armed” is not only about ethics and philanthropy; it is also a problem of global self-defense.

Can it be done? maybe. In the case of South Sudan, Care calculated that it would need US$126 million to resolve key distribution issues. Therefore, it calls on wealthy governments to fill this loophole with grants, and calls on global companies to provide logistical support, such as the provision of transportation services.

However, well-intentioned but fragmented appeals for charity are not the real answer. Western and non-Western governments should give priority to formulating a coordinated global plan to solve the problem of underfunded health infrastructure.

As it happens, there is a potential roadmap floating for this. Earlier this year, the G20 asked Shan Daman, former Secretary of Finance of Singapore, Lawrence Summers, former Secretary of Finance of the United States, and Ngozio Concho-Iveira, the head of the World Trade Organization, to advise on how to improve global pandemic preparedness.

and report, It was released this summer and contains many very smart ideas. The trio called on G20 countries to invest at least US$75 billion in the next five years to address the weak links of epidemic prevention and medical infrastructure around the world. They also called on the G20 to establish a “Global Health Threat Committee” to coordinate pandemic responses in the same way as the Financial Stability Board’s regulatory measures in response to the 2008 financial crisis. This includes not only the Minister of Health, but also financial officials-this move reflects the growing recognition that medicine (or vaccines) alone cannot defeat a pandemic. Infrastructure investment is also crucial.

These proposals will be submitted to the G20 next month for adoption. But it is not clear that they will fly. Someone told me that this was partly because the idea of ??creating a new coordinating body caused an uproar in some parts of the World Health Organization. But this is also because the price of 75 billion US dollars looks terrible to some G20 countries.

Given that most Western governments face fiscal austerity (and the pressure of voters to focus on domestic issues), this may be understandable.But the proposed expenditure is Trillions of dollars worth of losses Covid-19 has already had an impact on the global economy.Or, as the report points out: “The cost [of pandemics] The government budget alone is equivalent to 300 times the total annual additional expenditure we propose, and 700 times the annual additional international investment. ”

Therefore, spending 75 billion US dollars is an act of “financial responsibility”, the three concluded-it is also a “scientific and ethical” priority. If the G20 does not take action next month, rich countries will take their own humiliation. Investors should pay attention.

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