Vaccine inequality (2)

“Unfortunately, it didn’t happen... Rich countries behaved worse than anyone's worst nightmares.”

The West promised with Covax a system of global procurement to supply COVID-19 vaccines to the Global South. But Covax failed. The mechanism had some structural errors. And, the West acted very selfish.

Covax failed

The Lancet published an article on Covax and analyzed where it went wrong.

Countries that should have funded Covax had their own bilateral deals with vaccine manufacturers, and those deals got priority. Moreover, some rich countries procured extra vaccines through Covax. Canada and the UK, for instance, received vaccines through Covax before (!) the rest of the world because they paid for it. Covax worked this procedure out in order to receive money, but it had some weird side effects: the Covax-system is short in vaccines, can't keep it promises and it has to reserve 1 in 5 doses for rich countries...

Covax isn't a solution for the Global South. Developing countries will receive 20% of the necessary vaccines through the charity. The rest will be paid for. Rich countries would never accept to inoculate only one in five of their citizens... And from those 2·3 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines that Covax wants to roll out worldwide by early 2022, 485 million doses are for the rich countries; the countries that have vaccinated a big part of their citizens.

Slow World Bank

Another failure is the financing of low- and middle income countries so that they can buy vaccines. In Nature Justin Sandefur explains why the World Bank is so slow in giving money.

Apparently, the World Bank didn't took leadership and waited very long to act. It also put up a lot of requirements before money could flow to the South. Poor countries were thus set off to loan money. The bank didn't even offer grants, or thought about lower rates on the loans.

So what now? The bank must soften the terms of its loans for health systems and unleash more of its $12 billion pledge as grants for vaccine procurement. The longer it waits, the less good its money will do.

No IP waiver

The American president Joe Biden scored extra points with progressists on waiving the IP's on the COVID 19-vaccines. But Europe didn't follow. So it stranded. But waiving IP's is not enough. Even Chelsea Clinton knows it:

The world needs about 10 billion vaccines delivered as quickly as possible. The only way to reach that goal is for Biden to support a comprehensive World Trade Organization waiver that goes beyond vaccine patents to all technologies associated with the vaccines, and for him to persuade other countries to do the same. He also must compel pharmaceutical companies to share their vaccine technology, something well within his power for the vaccines the U.S. has funded.

But chances that this will happen, are small. Biden has started his vaccine diplomacy and Europe wants to protect its pharmaceutical industry. And that's worth the dead of thousands of people in the Global South.

Vaccine nationalism

We should never forget that one and a half year after the start of the pandemic and a year after the first positive results on vaccines “around 0.8% of all COVID-19 vaccines distributed in the world have gone to poor countries. Most of the 1.65 billion doses of vaccines administered have been in rich countries.”

And I haven't touched vaccine nationalism, the export ban in Europe and the United States, the hoarding of vaccines and the fact that non-Western vaccines aren't accepted in the West...

#vaccine #coronapandemic