Fri 19 February 2021:
People from poorer nations will probably be unable to get a COVID-19 vaccine this year because the world’s richest countries have bought one billion more doses than their citizens need, a new study has found, as G7 leaders indicated a willingness to share their excess doses ahead of a meeting on Friday.
“This huge vaccine excess is the embodiment of vaccine nationalism, with countries prioritising their own vaccination needs at the expense of other countries and the global recovery,” said ONE, a group that campaigns against poverty.
“At this critical moment, vaccine equity is the biggest moral test before the global community,” he said, adding that a meeting later on Friday of the G7 top industrialised nations “can create the momentum” to address the inequality.
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French President Emmanuel Macron has called for Europe and the United States to commit between 3 and 5 percent of their vaccine supply to developing countries.
“It’s an unprecedented acceleration of global inequality and it’s politically unsustainable too because it’s paving the way for a war of influence over vaccines,” Macron told the Financial Times newspaper in a video link interview on Thursday.
Macron said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has also agreed that the decision to share part of Europe’s vaccine stockpile should be a concerted effort.
The report inthe UK’s Times newspaper said that up to 80 percent of the surplus doses will go to global vaccine alliance, COVAX, which was set up to distribute COVID-19 medications to lower-income nations.
The process is expected to start at the earliest on March 1.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden is expected to pledge $4bn to the COVAX programme.
According to the World Health Organization, the facility needs $5bn this year alone to be able to distribute vaccines for at least the most vulnerable 20 percent of the population in poor countries.
But as the ONE study said, wealthy nations “will not be doing any favours for their own citizens” if they continue to hoard the vaccines.
“If the virus can thrive in any part of the world, the risk of new variants increases and it is only a matter of time before strains emerge that undermine the vaccines and tools that have been developed to fight COVID-19,” the report said.
Such concerns prompted Mexico to the issue of distribution at the UN Security Council earlier this week.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his government would like to see the UN address vaccine hoarding and equity so that “all countries have the possibility of vaccinating their inhabitants.”
Russia and China have already started shipping tens of thousands of doses of their COVID-19 vaccines to other developing and underdeveloped countries.
According to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracker, more than 110 million people around the world have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and more than 62 million have recovered.
SOURCE : AL JAZEERA