Pharmaceutical companies should do more to transfer vaccine technology to prevent the poorest countries falling behind in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, according to an expert.
The warning came from Dag-Inge Ulstein, the co-chair of the global council trying to speed up access to Covid vaccines for the world’s poor, known as the Act (Access to Covid-19 Tools) Accelerator. Ulstein, Norway’s international development minister, oversees the drive to ensure vaccines reach the poor – the Covax programme.
His remarks were amplified by his global health ambassador, John-Arne Røttingen, who told the Guardian that the battle to create equal access to vaccines was “at a very important turning point”. Other diplomats fear that if the issue of vaccine distribution is not resolved, it will result in years of resentment between rich and poor nations.
Samantha Power, the new USAid director, has also admitted the scheme is not on track, and the WHO director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, pointed out that only 25 people had been vaccinated in Africa compared with 39 million in rich countries, and said the world was on the “brink of a catastrophic moral failure”.
The Act Accelerator is aiming to distribute 2bn doses of vaccines by the end of 2021 to world’s 92 poorer countries. Those countries can buy from elsewhere if they wish, but are unlikely to have the cash, and outside the scheme the price is likely to be higher.
It is now forecast that only 27% of those living in poor and medium income countries will be vaccinated this year, but there are fears that something deeper may be going wrong. Detailed forecasts issued by Gavi, the global vaccine alliance, this week show Africa, a continent of 1.3 billion people, will only receive 140m doses by June through Covax.
So the task is badly handled by an international bureaucracy of tosspots. At which point we must give more power to, more money to, the international tosspots so they can handle matters more badly more.
Doesn’t sound like one of those reinforcing success plans, does it?