At least one-fifth of the world’s population may not have access to a Covid-19 vaccine until 2022, according to a study released Wednesday, with wealthier nations reserving more than half of next year’s potential doses.
With the hope that vaccines could end a pandemic that has killed an estimated 1.6 million people, countries including the United States, Great Britain and the UAE have already started rolling out immunization programs.
Eager to increase their chances of having access to at least one of the dozen developing vaccines, many nations have accumulated allocations of different drugs.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that wealthy nations – who make up just 14% of the global population – have pre-ordered just over half of the vaccine doses that are expected to be produced by the top 13 developers next year.
There are fears that the poorest nations will be left behind.
Even if drug makers all produced effective and safe vaccines and met their maximum global production targets, the study says “at least one fifth of the world’s population would not have access to vaccines until 2022”.
The research, published in the medical journal BMJ, looked at publicly available data and found that bookings as of mid-November totaled 7.48 billion doses, equivalent to 3.76 billion immunization cycles, because most vaccines requires two shots.
This is on a total projected maximum production capacity of 5.96 billion courses by the end of 2021.
POOL PURCHASE SCHEME
The study estimated that up to 40% of vaccine courses from major manufacturers could be available to low- and middle-income countries, but said this will depend on how rich countries share what they bought.
The authors, who warned that public information was incomplete, called for “more transparency and accountability” over support for fair global access.
They suggested that the implications could go far beyond health.
“To varying degrees, trade and travel to countries could be continuously disrupted until access to effective preventive or therapeutic measures, such as Covid-19 vaccines, becomes more widely available,” the report said.
Many countries have joined a COVAX joint purchasing mechanism – coordinated by the World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the Gavi Vaccine Alliance – with the aim of ensuring that people around the world have access to a Covid-19 vaccine, regardless of wealth.
The initiative hopes to have two billion doses available by the end of 2021.
But so far neither the United States nor Russia have joined the program.
Jason Schwartz, of the Yale School of Public Health, said US participation in coordination efforts would be “invaluable” in helping to ensure that people around the world have access to vaccines “that will ultimately help put an end to this devastating global health crisis “.
In a BMJ editorial, Schwartz said the need for two doses and the very low temperatures required to store some of the vaccines have added to the challenges for many countries.
“The operational challenges of the global Covid-19 vaccination program will be at least as difficult as the scientific challenges associated with rapidly developing safe and effective vaccines,” he said.
The Johns Hopkins authors claimed that the prices for vaccinations ranged from $ 6 per course up to $ 74.
They found that if all vaccines worked as hoped, many richer nations would already have reserved at least one immunization per person.
Researchers said Canada had ordered the equivalent of four doses per person, the United States reserved just enough for one vaccine course per person, while countries like Indonesia reserved less than one vaccine course. every two people.