We can‘t really get rid of corona until the whole world has access to vaccines. That is why it is essential that the G7 countries make €50 billion available to non-Western countries. That’s what Hans Kluge, the European Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Nieuwsuur says. He hopes that Western countries will step over their own interests to make billions of vaccines available for the rest of the world.
“We want to have given at least 30 percent of the world‘s population a vaccine at the end of the year. If we want to make that, we’ll need some 500 million more vaccines by the end of the year. But 100 million next month.” In total, according to WHO, 11 billion doses are required to invest the world‘s population.
The US President set a good example this week. On his arrival in the UK where the G7 summit is held, he promised to make half a billion Pfizer vaccines available in stages. The United Kingdom and Canada have also committed to donating at least 100 million inoculations each to poorer countries. It is expected that now other countries and the EU will follow. Especially because there are much more vaccines ordered in the EU than necessary.
‘First the own population‘
To vaccinate all non-Western countries, WHO founded Covax. This is a neutral organisation that collects vaccines worldwide to distribute them with Unicef among countries that are unable to buy or manufacture vaccines on their own. So far, Covax’s pantry remained shockingly empty. Currently, the organization has distributed 83 million vaccines to 131 participating countries. According to Science‘s renowned science journalist Jon Cohen, it’s “normal” for countries to think of their own population first before giving away vaccines.
“It‘s an art of equilibrium to satisfy their own people first while thinking about the rest of the world at the same time. That’s what Covax was invented for right now. Then countries don‘t have to decide who to give the vaccines to,” says Cohen. According to WHO boss Kluge, it’s “painful to see countries now think about vaccinating children while doctors and nursing staff don‘t have a prick in many countries.”
Vaccination mistrust biggest problem
Unicef is the organization responsible for spreading vaccines around the world together with WHO. That’s not a small task. According to project coordinator Sabine de Jong van Unicef, much has been prepared in recent months. “Of all countries that have signed up for the Covax program, we know about how many vaccines they need to prioritize the elderly, vulnerable and health personnel. And we know where they live globally.”
The biggest problem now is to remove the increased suspuse of vaccines. “That regret has grown tremendously during the coronapandemic. To reach people in every corner, for example in Suriname, we connect with regional, spiritual leaders and young people who call their supporters to get vaccinated through social media. It is important to reach people in the corners of the world because it is precisely where the health system is weak and corona can quickly create an uncontrollable outbreak there.”
According to Cohen, the corona pandemic has made the gap between rich and poor painfully clear. “But at the same time, we have never been more strongly confronted with the obligation to help other countries. Because if we don‘t, we’ll never get out of the crisis.”