Vaccine Equity Key to Prevent the Spread of COVID19
30 July 2021
Inequitable vaccine distribution is not only leaving millions of people vulnerable to the virus, it is also allowing deadly variants to emerge
Kenya continues to receive COVID 19 vaccines procured and transported by UNICEF through the COVAX facility, which was mainly targeting essential workers and people in the eligible groups. In Kenya the demand for the vaccine is high, but the availability is still limited, mainly to frontline workers and other eligible groups, but the net is being cast wider as the vaccines become available.
The virus is however moving faster than the global distribution of the vaccine. The majority have been administered in high- and upper-middle-income countries while millions in the global South are at only 2% in vaccines. Inequitable vaccine distribution is not only leaving millions of people vulnerable to the virus. It is also allowing deadly variants to emerge and ricochet back across the world. As variants continue to spread, even countries with advanced vaccination programs have been forced to reimpose strict public health measures, and some have implemented travel restrictions. In turn, the ongoing pandemic is leading to deepening divergence in economic fortunes, with negative consequences for all.
To stop the pandemic, we need to vaccinate at least 40% of people in every country by the end of 2021, and at least 70% by the first half of 2022. As underlined by Unicef and WHO, the global vaccination race will be won when Member States make sustainable plans to fully fund and supply the COVAX, while supporting the expansion of vaccine manufacturing capacity. In fact, the WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called on vaccine manufacturers to give its COVAX scheme the right of first refusal on all extra doses they manufacture.
These measures are critical, but they won’t change anything overnight. Sharing immediately available excess doses is a minimum, essential and emergency stop-gap measure, and it is needed right now.