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  • Across the globe, countries are locked in both a race against time

  • and against one another as they battle over vaccine supply.

  • While Canada has purchased enough shots to vaccinate their population five times over,

  • low-income nations, such as Nigeria, Cameroon and Ghana

  • are struggling to get even just a small share of the pie.

  • These nations face a lack of supplies, but also huge logistical challenges with distribution.

  • So, what can be done to make the Covid-19 vaccine rollout more equitable?

  • After months of lockdowns, fear and spiralling death tolls,

  • the world began to see the light at the end of the tunnel when pharmaceutical firms announced

  • the success of their vaccine candidates against Covid-19 in November 2020.

  • This paved the way for the first regulator-approved Covid-19 vaccinations in December.

  • Although more vaccines have been approved since, the reality is that the shots

  • are not being rolled out everywhere at the same pace.

  • In low-income nations, the vaccine rollout has been slow,

  • among the doses we have distributed so far, 75% have been used in just 10 nations.

  • There are a few low- and middle-income countries among those, most notably India,

  • but by and large we are talking about wealthy nations.

  • On the other side of the spectrum there are 80 countries in the world,

  • representing 1.5 billion people, who have yet to administer a single dose.

  • So, the early vaccine rollout has been characterized by this inequity.

  • When looking at the vaccine rollout so far, it is clear that many countries

  • in Africa, South America and Asia have vaccinated only a tiny fraction of their populations.

  • In comparison, Israel, the U.K. and the United States are a long way ahead in this race.

  • Why is it so hard to see vaccinations picking up in these countries?

  • So, it has been primarily an issue of supply. Right now we have too little of it,

  • doses are scarce and most of that supply has been purchased in advance

  • by a handful of nations which are now using those doses.

  • The U.S. and the U.K., which have had high vaccination rates

  • through the early months of 2021, were quick to sign deals with pharmaceutical firms

  • even before they knew whether the scientific work was going to be successful.

  • These two countries were the first to reach vaccine supply agreements back in May 2020.

  • Japan followed suit in July while most of Europe, Canada,

  • and a few other countries struck their first deals in August.

  • These advance agreements secured their place in line to be among the first recipients of Covid-19 vaccines.

  • As a result, high-income countries had rights to 4.6 billion doses

  • of Covid-19 vaccines by the first quarter of 2021.

  • On the other hand, lower middle-income countries have secured 614 million doses,

  • while low-income countries are due to receive just 670 million shots.

  • To overcome supply issues, middle-income nations such as India and Brazil

  • used their manufacturing capacities to negotiate large agreements with the pharmaceutical firms.

  • Others, such as Peru, leveraged their infrastructure to host clinical trials to negotiate purchase deals.

  • But low-income countries are at a disadvantage here, too.

  • They generally lack large pharmaceutical maufacturing capacity and testing infrastructure.

  • They are therefore more reliant on multilateral agreements.

  • The African Union, a group of more than 50 nations,

  • has collectively bought 670 million vaccines on behalf of its members.

  • And COVAX, a coalition of international organizations including the World Health Organization and UNICEF,

  • has secured another 600 million doses for the continent.

  • In Nigeria, the current pace of vaccinations means that it will be some time

  • before the population is protected against the virus.

  • Our target is to vaccinate 100% of the eligible population.

  • We plan that within the first year, we should be able to vaccinate up to 70% of that population

  • and then by the second year we should be able to vaccinate the remaining 30% of the population.

  • So overall, we are looking at being able to vaccinate 112 million Nigerians.

  • And just to be clear about that timeline that you just shared,

  • two years would mean that you would probably finish

  • the vaccination rollout in 2023. Is that right?

  • Yes, that is what we are looking at. All of these preparations, all of the rollout

  • will be predicated on the availability of vaccines, so that's exactly what we are doing,

  • pacing it along the lines of the availability of the vaccines.

  • I was just wondering if you could describe as well the challenges of getting the vaccines

  • and then distributing them across the population?

  • As you will have observed in the last few months, low- and middle-income countries have had

  • the challenge of getting vaccines because of the phenomenon of vaccine nationalism.

  • Most of the developed countries have mopped up a lot of the vaccines.

  • This is where the COVAX facility has been very helpful,

  • they have been able to make some vaccines available to low- and middle-income countries.

  • But simply being able to purchase vaccines isn't enough.

  • Local networks to distribute Covid-19 shots also need to be improved.

  • Some of the most common challenges include a lack of trained medical personnel to administer shots,

  • insufficient facilities for disposal of biohazard waste,

  • and the need for some vaccines to be stored at incredibly low temperatures.

  • There are important differences, which is the ability to get super-cold freezers

  • in a poorer country is going to be far less, I mean they cost money and there is a limited supply,

  • and I do think the logistical burden is significant, and the cost burden is significant.

  • And then there is vaccination hesitancy and a growing tide of misinformation too.

  • The challenges of vaccine hesitancy will be challenges for all countries.

  • We haven't seen it yet because we are still in early phases

  • where the people who want the vaccine still can't get it.

  • We know that vaccine hesitancy is not fixed, it's not something that cannot be changed,

  • we do see that levels of willingness to get vaccinated go up and down.

  • To me that's actually an encouraging thing to recognize

  • because it means that public health authorities can take action to try to build that trust.

  • These challenges will be difficult to overcome, especially if there is little international cooperation.

  • But it is not an impossible task if world leaders have the will

  • to end the global health emergency as soon as possible.

  • If we are going to eradicate Covid-19 as one global community

  • then it is important that every community has access to these vaccines.

  • The virus doesn't know any borders, right, so even if developed countries are able to eradicate it,

  • as long as low- and middle-income countries don't have access to the vaccines

  • then the disease will continue to circulate in these countries.

  • After the first reports of infections emerged in China in late 2019,

  • European countries began imposing strict lockdowns and the U.S. was closing its borders in March 2020.

  • With the emergence of new variants, some of which are more infectious or evade immunity,

  • protecting populations against mutated forms of the virus will be crucial in moving on from the pandemic.

  • This is also true from an economic perspective.

  • The International Monetary Fund had initially forecast a 3.4% rise in global output for 2020.

  • But shortly after the pandemic hit, early in the year, the IMF cut its projection to a contraction of 3%,

  • predicting it would be the worst economic shock since the 1930s.

  • In more recent calculations, the IMF estimated that global economic activity in fact fell by 3.3% over the year,

  • with the chances of an immediate recovery in 2021 threatened by renewed waves of infections and virus mutations.

  • Vaccinations will be critical in enabling economic activity to pick up after this severe global recession.

  • The assumption is that for advanced economies and for some emerging markets,

  • they will get to widespread vaccinations by this summer,

  • and for the rest of the world by the end of 2022.

  • So as long as we don't see any virus variants that evade the effectiveness of vaccines,

  • we hope that there will be a vaccine-powered recovery in many countries, especially in the second half of this year.

  • Why is it so important to vaccinate the whole world?

  • If we get to much faster vaccination, the cumulative effect will be $9 trillion over 4 to 5 years.

  • Around 40% of that $9 trillion is benefit to advanced economies,

  • the remaining to emerging and developing economies.

  • We are seeing virus mutations happening and as long as many parts of the world remain unvaccinated,

  • you are going to see many more of these mutations and that is a big concern for the global economy.

  • If we see vaccinations going at a much slower paces or if we see new virus variants

  • that evade the vaccine that would have a very sharp downgrade to the outlook.

  • Helping low-income nations in their vaccination efforts

  • is a critical test for international cooperation, especially among wealthier countries.

  • If we are unable, in the midst of a global crisis,

  • to share a vaccine that it is in every nation's interest to share,

  • because it is the fastest way to bring the pandemic under control,

  • what are the prospects of us cooperating on preventing future pandemics,

  • what are the chances of us cooperating on climate change,

  • on nuclear non-proliferation, anything that requires the nations of the world

  • to trust one another and work together to make us all safer.

  • If we cannot do it in this crisis, we have little hope in doing it

  • in the many other areas where we need to see that cooperation.

  • Hi everyone. Thank you for watching.

  • How has the vaccination program been going in your home country?

  • Let us know in the comments section, and don't forget to subscribe.

  • I'll see you soon.

Across the globe, countries are locked in both a race against time

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Why poorer countries are being left behind in the vaccine rollout | CNBC Reports

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    Summer posted on 2021/04/08
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