"No one is safe from COVID-19 until everyone is safe", WHO launch drive for vaccine equity

More than 50 nations have missed their vaccination targets, a large majority of which are low-income. Should we in higher income countries be doing more to help?

Carly Horne
28th October 2021
Flag of the World Health Organisation. Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons
On the 8th of December 2020, the NHS delivered the first clinically approved COVID-19 vaccination to 90-year-old Margaret Keenan. This was a momentous achievement in the fight against coronavirus, with rightful commendation going to the health service and global scientists for the drive to create and deliver an effective vaccination.

As of the 13th of October 2021, 66.37% of the United Kingdom's population has received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccination. This news is welcome, showing us the light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel.

But the news is not so bright for other nations.

On the 1st of October 2021, The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that more than 50 nations had missed their vaccination target of 10% of their population by the end of September. A large majority of these nations are low-income, while others are in the midst of civil unrest such as those in Syria and Afghanistan.

The populations of these countries are crying out to be inoculated

With particular emphasis on African countries who have fallen behind on reaching the target, experts in the area are concerned that the low rates of vaccination may lead to the emergence of new variants. Additionally, where infection and death rates are particularly high, experts have raised concerns about the impact a low vaccination uptake will have on these figures.

The populations of these countries are crying out to be inoculated, so the problem isn't particularly low uptake or scepticism. Rather, supply issues are responsible for such low rates across the continent.

Vaccine distribution was heavily concentrated in high- and middle-income countries, according to the WHO. With a more fair and equal distribution, the organisation says, "they would have been enough to cover all health workers and older people globally."

As it currently stands, only 2.7% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

During the pandemic, there was a rise of intense feelings of nationalism - the view that we must look out for our own before contributing to the global fight against SARS-CoV-2.

The reality is, however, that no one is protected from the virus until everyone is protected.

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