Kolkata, India: COVID-19 vaccine inequity will have a long-term and profound impact on socioeconomic recovery in low- and lower-middle-income countries unless urgent action is taken to boost supply and ensure equitable access for all countries, including through dose sharing, WHO, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the University of Otago said in a joint statement citing new date.
Lower-income countries require immediate access to affordable vaccines as well as financial assistance, should a safe and sound future is envisioned, the statement said.
If low-income countries had similar vaccination rates as high-income countries, scaling up manufacturing and providing enough vaccine doses may have added $38 billion to their GDP projection for 2021.
Now that the rich nations have paid trillions in stimulus to prop up faltering economies, it is time to ensure vaccine doses are distributed quickly, all barriers to increasing vaccine manufacturing are removed, and financing support is secured, so vaccines can be distributed equitably and a truly global economic recovery can occur, WHO said in a release.
Not only economic setback, WHO said, a high price per dose of COVID-19 vaccine compared to other vaccines, as well as delivery costs – including those related to the health workforce surge – could put a strain on already-fragile health systems, that could undermine routine immunization and essential health services, that could lead to alarming increases in measles, pneumonia, and diarrhea.
There is also a clear danger of missing out on opportunities to expand other immunization services, such as the safe and successful deployment of HPV vaccines, WHO said.
These findings come from the Global Dashboard for COVID-19 Vaccine Equity, a UNDP, WHO, and the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government collaboration that combines the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 vaccination with the most recent socio-economic data to show why accelerating vaccine equity is critical not only to save lives but also to drive a faster and more equitable recovery.
“In some low- and middle-income countries, less than 1 percent of the population is vaccinated – this is contributing to a two-track recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic”, said UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner.
“It’s time for swift, collective action – this new COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Dashboard will provide Governments, policymakers, and international organizations with unique insights to accelerate the global delivery of vaccines and mitigate the devastating socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.”
Richer countries are expected to vaccinate and recover economically faster from COVID-19, according to the new Dashboard, which draws on data from a variety of sources including the IMF, World Bank, UNICEF, and Gavi, as well as analysis of per capita GDP growth rates from the World Economic Outlook.
Poorer countries haven’t even been able to vaccinate their health workers and most at-risk people.
Meanwhile, Delta and its derivatives are causing several governments to reintroduce rigorous public health social policies.
The social, economic, and health consequences are worsening, especially for the most disadvantaged and marginalized populations.
Vaccine disparity is a challenge to all countries, and it has the potential to reverse hard-won progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.
Vaccine disparity is the world’s biggest barrier to ending this pandemic and recovering from COVID-19, stated World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
It is in all countries’ best interests, economically, epidemiologically, and morally, to employ the most recent available evidence to make lifesaving vaccines available to all, he added.
As new data becomes available, the Dashboard will be updated in real-time, filling a key gap in the international community’s awareness of what can be done to achieve vaccination equity. Users can and should download all data sets in their entirety from the website.