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Covid-19 vaccine – a commodity for the rich of the world

As the pandemic gains momentum, the world’s wealthiest countries are getting vaccinated twenty-five times faster. According to Waqar Hassan, the Covid-19 vaccine is another tool that is used to increase the gap between developed and developing nations.

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After a year of misery and distress inflicted by the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, countries around the globe are striving hard to get Covid-19 vaccines to curb the spread of this deadly pandemic, prevent further casualties and revive economies.

This is made possible by the introduction of a vaccine that has, without any doubt, reduced the risk of transmission of Covid-19. In fact, vaccinating the population is the only way forward to restrict the spread of Covid-19. However, the phenomenon of vaccine nationalism has rung alarm bells for the developing nations of this world, as the availability of vaccines remains questionable for these countries.

Read more: WHO warns global shortage of virus protective gear ‘urgent threat’

According to a report published in Bloomberg equality, the world’s wealthiest countries are getting vaccinated twenty-five times faster. Economies with the highest incomes have 40% of the world’s vaccinations, but just 11% of the global population.

Rich nations are vaccinating one person every second while the majority of the poorest nations are yet to give a single dose. Countries making up the least-wealthy 11% have gotten just 1.6% of Covid-19 vaccines administered so far, according to an analysis of data collected by the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker.

Read more: US signs $2 billion deal for coronavirus vaccines with Pfizer and BioNTech

Developing countries in danger?

The clouds of uncertainty loom over the developing countries as the availability of vaccines for the developing countries seems an insurmountable target. Just like other diseases such as Polio, Malaria, and Dengue, Covid-19 may survive for years to come and its mutating character makes it the most lethal disease humans have ever confronted with.

This is horrifying considering the capacity of the developing nations to get rid of such pandemics. Having said that, developing countries are still fighting to deal with the decades’ old viruses and without an immediate supply of the statCovid-19 vaccine, the future of many developing nations looks bleak.

Read more: Polio workers walk amid waist-deep snow to vaccinate children

Moreover, according to an estimate, at current global vaccination rates, it will take 4.6 years to achieve worldwide herd immunity against COVID-19. This lengthy time gap will likely allow variants of the virus to develop and spread, potentially rendering current vaccines ineffective.

It will increase inequality, poverty, and joblessness all over the globe. It will also widen the chasm between the developed and the developing countries. Not only this, but it will also decide trade and political relations among the countries.

Read more: COVID-19 could cause 45% surge in child mortality in developing countries: UN

It may also lead towards the formation of a new world order in which developed countries will have more control over the developing countries. This will be a doomsday scenario for those countries that fail to vaccinate their population.

On the other hand, developed countries such as New Zealand, Canada, the USA, and the UK are vaccinating their population at a rapid pace. These countries have also placed a travel ban on the entry of immigrants from the developing countries of the world. It all indicates the beginning of a new world in which vaccine nationalism will overturn globalization.

Read more: Vaccine passports: to be or not to be?

Vaccines should be public goods

The world can never be a peaceful place without an equal and justifiable supply and availability of the Covid-19 vaccine. The countries that have the capacity to produce vaccines are taking orders from the highest bidder only. It means that poor nations have no chance to win an opportunity of getting doses of Covid-19 vaccine for their population.

This all requires serious introspection and the world community must devise some strategy to address this growing concern of the developing nations. Parity in vaccine distribution is the only way forward.

Read more: Greta Thunberg to skip COP26 over unfair vaccine rollouts

Treating vaccines as public goods rather than market commodities is the way to improve vaccine equity. This may involve scaling up existing vaccination distribution programs, developing new ones, and temporarily waiving vaccine patent protections.

This is the time to act fast keeping in view the mutating nature of Covid-19, or the world may encounter more lockdowns, more travel restrictions, and more inequality among the developed and the developing nations.

Read more: Covid-19 outbreak & the future of pandemics

The author is a Civil Servant of Pakistan (CSP). He writes on social and global issues. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.