Major researchers of public health have been engaged the last few months, analyzing the global access to Covid-19 vaccines therapeutics and diagnostics across 14 low and middle income countries like Bangladesh, Haiti, Jamaica, Nepal, Nigeria, Madagascar, Liberia, amongst others. According to this survey, numerous communities have been systemically let down, in a bid to protect the lives of people in developed communities. Attributing to the low inoculation rate in these countries to vaccine hesitation, new transnational reports indicates that many underdeveloped countries have been abandoned during this global response to Covid-19 pandemic, where numerous factors still prevent millions of people from obtaining the vaccine, have access to tests and treatments.
In a survey compiled by Matahari Global Solutions in collaboration with the People’s Vaccine Alliance and the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (ITPC), it was noticed that the key factors like the under-supply of vaccines and treatments, underfunding healthcare system, poor adaptation to local needs and undervaluation of healthcare workers contributed to low vaccination rate among these countries. Some problems stated in the reports indicate inaccessibility to vaccination sites, with vaccine supply still a major problem. Further are lack of access to antivirus treatments and accurate information, racially motivated medical experimentations and community health workers being underpaid.
Low vaccination rate, an issue of equity and not vaccine hesitation.
Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, said to have involved in the monopolization of public funded knowledge and technology in producing vaccines for Covid-19 has reportedly helped numerous pharmaceutical companies to billions of profit, at the expense of the lives of over 15 million people. He has continuously trivialized the role he has played in the perpetration of unequal access to Covid-19 medical tools, as well as laying blames on poor and middle income countries for being immensely hesitant towards the Covid-19 vaccine. Dr. Fifa A. Rahman, Consultant at Matahari Global Solutions noted that the concluded result negates this allegation, noting that it has mostly been an issue of equity.
Global South Convenor of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, Maaza Seyoum noted that the concluded survey indicated a deliberate abandonment of poor countries for the protection of wealthier countries. He admitted that people in the global south have been abandoned, with their lives treated as an afterthought. He added that these local communities have been relegated and made to shoulder blames when in fact, there has just been less efforts to meet their needs, evidently illustrating the systemic racism that has ravaged the global response to Covid-19.
Less than 22% in poor countries have access to a shot of Covid-19 vaccine.
Due to government of wealthy countries continually hoarding Covid-19 dosages, as well as pharmaceutical companies keeping protective and preventive knowledges, statistics prove that less than 22% of people in low and middle income countries have had access to a shot of Covid-19 vaccine, compared to the 79% rate in high income countries. Even COVAX, an initiative backed by the United Nations to encourage the spread of Covid-19 vaccines across underdeveloped countries has also failed to reach its target, which has caused many critics to regard the model of the charity a failure.
Nadia Rafifi, the head of advocacy at ITPC urged the government, pharmaceutical corporations and other international agencies to properly address the issues that have consistently served as barriers against access to vaccines and treatment. Nadia asserted that investing in the pharmaceutical manufacturing on vaccines in these low/middle income countries, as well as maximally including the use of already existing public healthcare safeguards would immensely enhance the reliability of access to Covid-19 vaccines and treatments. However, a campaign aimed at pushing the World Trade Organization to suspend Covid-19 related patents for the pandemic timeframe, allowing drug manufacturers to produce diagnostics and therapeutics without legal retributions recently suffered a major blow at the hand of the government.
Other initiatives for manufacturing generic vaccines like mRNA underway.
Other initiatives for the manufacturing of generic vaccines are underway, including the World Health Organization‘s mRNA Vaccine Technology Transfer Hub, which will help in facilitating knowledge sharing and enhance local production capacity in poor countries. The first consortium which is based Afrigen Biologics, Cape Town is reported to have successfully replicated the mRNA Covid-19 vaccine, co-developed by Moderna and the U.S National Institute of Health, in spite of the Big Pharma’s efforts at undermining their works. 15 mulled/low income country manufacturers have been regarded as recipients of mRNA training and technology from Afrigen hub. Also, the U.S government scientists have agreed to share technical knowledge on the development of mRNA vaccines and treatments with Afrigen, in a bid to fight the present pandemic and other infectious diseases.