The World Health Organisation (WHO) has claimed that the COVID-19 pandemic will drag on for a around a year longer than it needs to just because poorer countries are not getting the vaccines they need. The vaccine inequity, senior leader at WHO Dr Bruce Aylward says, will force the pandemic deep into 2022. Less than 5% of Africa’s population have received their shot, compared to around 40% of most other continents. Many other countries have pledged to donate vaccine shots, but the vast majority of vaccines overall have been used in high-income or upper-middle income countries.
The original idea behind Covax was to assure that all countries got vaccines from its pool. However, most G7 countries decided to hold back once they started making one-to-one deals with pharmaceutical companies. This lead to Africa currently accounting for just 2.6% of doses administered globally. Charity groups such as Oxfam and UNAids have criticised countries such as Canada and UK for procuring vaccines for their own populations.
Wealthy countries are being appealed to in order to give up their places in the vaccine queue in order that pharmaceutical companies can prioritise the lowest-income countries instead. The UK received 539,370 Pfizer doses earlier this year, with Canada taking under just a million AstraZeneca doses. The UK however, delivered 10 million doses out of the total 100 million promised.
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