The United States can vaccinate its people twice, while poor countries wait for the vaccine
The United States has purchased enough doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to immunize its entire population twice, while countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America have yet to purchase enough to cover their populations.
Michigan State University Center for Bioethics & Social Justice director and associate professor Sean Valles said the ability to pre-order vaccines will create an inequitable system.
“Countries that could afford to pre-order vaccines said, ‘If and when these become safe and available to use, we want to have the first dibs,'” said Valles.
The US and UK first purchased the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in May 2020.
“We spent billions of dollars to buy in bulk… and countries that didn’t have billions of dollars… didn’t have that option,” Valles said. “They can’t make a down payment on a product that might never even come into existence.
As of May 2020, the United States has ordered 300 million doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca, 110 million doses of Novavax, 300 million doses of Pfizer, 300 million doses of Moderna and 100 million of Johnson & Johnson.
In total, the United States has purchased 1.2 billion doses of vaccine and potentially purchases an additional 1.3 billion doses. This amount of vaccine will allow the United States to immunize 199.5% of its population.
According to the Duke Global Health Innovation Center, direct deals by high-income countries mean that a smaller amount of vaccine is available for low-income countries, middle-income countries and for equity-focused partnerships like COVAX, due to manufacturing constraints. .
Valles said low availability would lead to a situation where low-income countries will have to rely on high-income countries to donate cash or vaccine doses they have already pre-ordered.
The World Economic Forum predicts that this act of “vaccine nationalism”, where countries try to gain first access to vaccines, could slow the global economic recovery, costing high-income countries $ 119 billion a year.
Valles has a similar prediction on the global economic system due to the possibility of the disease spreading to a part of the world where wealthy economies depend on the production of goods there.
The impact is “radically different” for a country that might have half of its population vaccinated compared to a country that has less than one percent of its population vaccinated, Valles said.
High-income countries bought more than 5.9 billion doses of vaccines, COVAX bought more than 2.3 billion, and low-income countries like the African Union, Haiti, Syria, Somalia and Yemen purchased approximately 271 million doses in total.
COVAX is one of the three pillars of the COVID-19 Tool Access Accelerator, or ACT. It is the only effort to ensure that people in all corners of the world will have access to COVID-19 vaccines once they become available, regardless of their wealth.
Most of the world’s population lives in countries participating in COVAX, including 92 low-income countries that will receive doses of the vaccine to cover 20% of their population for free, according to the Duke Health Global Innovation Center.
Valles said the diseases do not respect national borders.
“If we have access to extra doses and these vaccine factories are able to keep producing, it is really time to recognize that we are all part of one world and share for the common good,” said Valles. .
According to the COVID-19 update from the Ingham County Health Department, 83.3% of residents have received at least their first dose of the vaccine.
“We have come to this point now where we are leveling off with the number of people who are ready to be vaccinated in the United States,” Valles said. “So we have doses on shelves in the United States and then people who are in desperate need of them. [in low-income countries]. “
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