Coronavirus vaccination campaigns in both China and India are expected to stretch well into 2022 and more than eighty poor countries will not have widespread access to the potentially life-saving shots before 2023, a new study has revealed.
“Most developing countries will not have widespread access to the shots before 2023 at the earliest,” Agathe Demarais, director of the Economist Intelligence Unit, the research division of the Economist Group, said in the study.
“Some of these countries—particularly poorer ones with a young demographic profile—may well lose the motivation to distribute vaccines, especially if the disease has spread widely or if the associated costs prove too high.”
She added that both China and India are considered to be special cases, as they “have developed their own shots and are pressing ahead with rollout plans, but the sheer size of their population means that mass immunization programs will stretch until late 2022, in line with the expected timeline for most middle-income countries.”
COVAX, a global alliance that aims to provide poor nations with coronavirus vaccines, has announced that 1.8 billion doses will be supplied to ninety-two poorer countries in 2021—representing approximately 27 percent overall coverage of populations in those nations.
Currently, about forty countries have begun to roll out their respective vaccination campaigns. However, only six of those nations are believed to be middle-income countries, while no low-income ones have launched any sort of vaccination program.
“There is a clear problem that low and most middle-income countries are not receiving the vaccine yet,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a recent media briefing.
He later asserted that vaccinating the world’s population more equitably must take on higher priority—otherwise, “we’re helping (the virus) thrive.”
According to the People’s Vaccine Alliance—an organization that includes Amnesty International, Frontline AIDS, Global Justice Now, and Oxfam—about seventy poor countries will only be able to vaccinate 10 percent of their populations because wealthier nations are hoarding more doses than they actually need.
The group noted that richer countries have purchased enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations nearly three times over by the end of 2021—if those vaccine candidates currently in clinical trials are all eventually approved for use. Canada topped the list with enough vaccines to inoculate each citizen five times.
“No one should be blocked from getting a life-saving vaccine because of the country they live in or the amount of money in their pocket,” Anna Marriott, the health policy manager at Oxfam, said in a news release.
“But unless something changes dramatically, billions of people around the world will not receive a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 for years to come.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.