The Importance of Vaccine Access
No one is safe until everyone is safe.
“We will not end the pandemic anywhere unless we end it everywhere,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
The Guardian released an article yesterday entitled, “Rich nations must either help developing countries fight COVID or live in a fortress.” (Read article)
A year into this pandemic, it brings hope to have vaccinations actually being administered in the US. But on the path to herd immunity, how much of the global population must be immunized to stop the spread of the disease?
According to the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, only 10 countries account for 75% of all COVID-19 vaccinations administered thus far. Over 130 countries do not yet have access to approved vaccinations. (Read article) Guterres called the distribution of vaccines so far, “wildly uneven and unfair.” (Read article)
Yesterday a huge step was made against this inequity.
COVAX was created in 2020, coordinating international resources, to enable the equitable access of COVID diagnostics, treatment, and COVID vaccinations. Their mission is to help end the acute phase of the pandemic as quickly as possible. COVAX has committed to providing 2 million WHO-approved vaccines to low-income countries by the end of 2021. (Read article) The greatest challenge is getting these vaccinations accessible to low and middle income countries in an affordable and effective manner. Money for the vaccines and logistics on the ground remain as major challenges in this plan. (Read article)
This effort by COVAX has been promised not to slow down the vaccinations in America. President Biden said last week that the White House has already purchased 600 million vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna for Americans.
I believe that the WHO Director’s statement is true. The pandemic will only end for us when it ends for everyone. Our globe seems very small these days with the ease of international travel. Therefore, in the countries where we operate, it is critical that the vaccination is accessible and affordable so that the majority of the people can get it. If this does not happen the disparities in health care will increase even further between developed and developing nations and reinfection will occur. COVID-19 will be around and continue to create more deadly variants if it is given a population to spread amongst. Even if the US and other western countries are fully vaccinated, but we leave the developing world behind, the virus will be back in a short time to kill again.
With broken health care systems, such as the one in eastern DRC, there is little access to COVID testing and even less access to treatment. In Butembo, the second largest city in North Kivu, there is one location that can conduct a swab test for COVID. That sample is then sent via dangerous roads to the city of Goma for analysis. It can be up to 10 days before you get your results. In that time, the patient may have fallen seriously ill and may have exposed many more people to the virus. In addition, with only a handful of ventilators in the entire country of DRC, the system is unprepared to care for seriously ill patients with COVID.
Therefore, we have a huge challenge ahead of us. The majority of all global citizens need to receive the vaccination in order to ensure the safety of us all. We are hopeful with the progress that was made yesterday.
Subscribe to our blog!