Covid vaccine inequity
One year after the Covax Facility was formed, equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines globally still remains just a slogan. The vaccination strategy of prioritizing health care workers and high-risk groups of all countries has not yet been realized.
In many places where the international medical humanitarian organization Medi-cines Sans Frontiers (MSF) is responding to the pandemic, we see first-hand the continuing inequities in global access to Covid-19 tools, including the scarce vaccines. The reality on the ground is that the world is far from ensuring all frontline health care workers and high-risk groups globally are vaccinated.
Despite the unprecedented speed of vaccine development and initial scaling-up of manufacturing capacity, the world is still facing a shortage and stark inequities in the global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. Over 30 countries have secured vaccines through advance purchase agreements to inoculate their own population at least three times over. At the same time, according to the World Health Organization, only 0.3 per cent of more than 890 million vaccine doses administered have gone to the low-income countries, meaning that some of the countries have completely zero access to the Covid-19 vaccines, including their health care workers who are highly exposed to the virus. We are all in this pandemic together but, as the crisis unfolds, the impact varies from place to place. While developed countries are achieving significant vaccination milestones, the developing world is witnessing a frightening rise in infections and deaths from the coronavirus, with the health care systems of India and Brazil reaching breaking point; and our neighboring region is facing the strain of a renewed surge in infections.
MSF urges that governments with more than enough Covid-19 vaccines for their entire populations and that have started to include their low-risk groups, including Hong Kong, urgently share their doses through the Covax Facility. They must share now to most effectively tackle this pandemic. They cannot wait until herd immunity is reached in their own societies nor leave the vaccines unused and let them go to waste.
While whether to be inoculated or not is a personal decision, one has to be able to access the vaccine before she/he can make the decision. We have already lost too many lives in this pandemic. It is time for collective action to turn the tide.
—South China Morning Post