Of the 1.9 billion vaccines administered worldwide, only 1 percent was given to Africa, and that proportion continues to decline in recent weeks. While this shows how serious a problem the global vaccine inequality has become, for the developing world the answer is not as simple as offering more vaccines. From Africa to Latin America, from Asia to the Caribbean, the same problems are repeating. In addition to finding adequate doses, logistical difficulties with delivery, problems with health infrastructure, and in some countries public hesitation about vaccines are contributing to the deepening of the problem. The gap in global vaccine inequality is widening.
Vaccine shortages and under-supply of doses in Africa remain the world’s number one problem. At a time when some wealthy countries are vaccinating more than half of their populations, only 28 million doses have been administered on the African continent so far. This figure is less than two percent of the continent’s population.
Problems with the inadequate supply of vaccines in Africa are largely due to the fact that 40 African countries rely on WHO’s Covax program, the program designed to provide cheap doses to promote vaccine equity. The supplies were supposed to come from the Serum Institute of India, but now these resources have been diverted for domestic use in India.
However, WHO has announced that Africa needs at least 20 million doses of AstraZeneca to deliver second vaccines to those who receive the first dose within the next six weeks. In addition, 200 million more doses of approved vaccines are needed to ensure the continent can vaccinate 10 percent of its population by September.
WHO regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti said in a statement on the subject, “Africa now needs vaccines. Any pause in vaccination campaigns will lead to loss of life and hope. However, it is too early to tell whether Africa is at the peak of the third wave. “We know that cases are increasing and time is ticking, so we urgently urge countries vaccinating high-risk groups to step up dose-sharing to fully protect the most vulnerable people.”
On the other hand, problems with supplies have affected vaccination programs in countries such as Kenya. South Africa, which has the highest reported infection burden on the continent, switched from doses of AstraZeneca to other vaccines after a small study due to fears of efficacy.
Although South Africa’s overall goal is to vaccinate 67 percent of its population of 60 million by February next year, only 1.3 million of the 30 million doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine it has purchased have been delivered so far, and a total of 4.5 million at the end of June. vaccine is expected. The country has also ordered 31 million doses of the Johnson Johnson vaccine, which has yet to arrive.
The same problems are seen in Latin America and the Caribbean, which make up only 8 percent of the world’s population, but report 30 percent of Covid-19-related deaths worldwide.
In Nepal, too, the government’s slow, indiscriminate and opaque supply of vaccines has contributed to the crisis in the Himalayan country. Even India, home to the Serum Institute, the world’s largest producer of vaccines, has struggled to produce enough vaccines for its population, which has led to the once recommended doses for poorer countries being driven through Covax.
Another major problem with vaccination programs in the developing world was logistics. In Malawi, for example, some vaccines had expired before they were used. On the other hand, poorer countries tend to have inadequate health infrastructure… An assessment by the WHO’s Africa region at the end of April indicated that some countries have succeeded in “exemplary rollout” of available vaccines, while others have struggled. Nine countries used less than a quarter of their dose and 15 countries used less than half.
WHO Africa’s new vaccine administration officer, Dr. “Commitment and local sourcing is crucial,” Phionah Atuhebwe said. “When the Republic of Ivory Coast applied to buy vaccines that require ultra-cold chains from Covax, the government was willing to send the presidential jet to go and get the kit. That’s the kind of commitment our countries need.”