When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel rolled up his sleeves in December 2020 to receive a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, kicking off one of the world’s first mass deployments of Covid shots, he announced that it marked the “beginning of the end” of the pandemic.
Thirteen months later, his prediction proved far from the truthbut 10 billion doses of vaccine have been used globally, a milestone that reflects the incredible speed at which governments and drug companies have mobilized, allowing many countries to envision a near future in which Their people coexist with the virus but are not constrained by it.
The milestone is reached on Friday, According to the Our World in Data project at the University of Oxfordhas not been given equitably, although 10 billion doses could theoretically mean at least one injection for all 7.9 billion people in the world.
In the wealthiest countries, 77 percent of people received at least one dose of the drug, while in low-income countries the figure was less than 10 percent. As North America and Europe race to surpass Omicron increases by supplying boosters, with some countries even think about the fourth shotMore than a third of the world’s population, many in Africa and the poor in Asia, are still waiting for the first dose.
The United States has injected five times more injections – about 85 million – than the total number of injections in the whole of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.
“Ten billion doses is a success of science but a complete failure of global solidarity,” said Madhukar Pai, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at McGill University in Montreal.
And not all vaccines are created equal. Manufacturers in China have considered ineffective compared with Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna mRNA vaccines. And while nearly all of the world’s Covid vaccines protect against severe illness, early research suggests that most provide little protection against infection from Omicron.
The consequences of the vaccine gap were highlighted by Omicron, first identified in southern Africa. Low vaccination rates facilitate widespread circulation of the virus and, with it, the potential for new variants to emerge.
Disparities persisted even as Covax, a global vaccine-sharing initiative that facilitates distribution of donations from wealthy nations, increased supplies. After a slow start as wealthy nations hoarded and massive outbreaks choked exports, Covax said this month that it had taken a dose of the billions – albeit less than half of its target. initial target.
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Misinformation on social media and mistrust by governments and pharmaceutical companies has led to vaccine hesitancy in many countries. Even when people are ready to vaccinate, deliver doses to remote areas with Poor health infrastructure has been and is a challenge.
In sub-Saharan Africa, Thomas Hale, an associate professor of public policy at the University of Oxford, said, “We are seeing fairly good vaccination rates in cities and capitals, where vaccines tend to be more prevalent. direction, but that supply pours on top of the common challenges of building stronger health systems in these countries. ”
High-income countries have announced support initiatives, including the Global Covid Corps, US government program to help countries overcome logistical and delivery barriers. However, experts say another big challenge is that rich countries have not agreed to waive intellectual property restrictions on vaccines and not pressure pharmaceutical companies to share the technology. their own so that poorer countries can manufacture doses locally.
For example, South Africa has set up a center to start developing an mRNA vaccine, where scientists, with the support of WHOis trying to reverse engineer the Moderna vaccine from scratch, because the US drugmaker won’t share its technology.
Dr. Pai likens this to reinventing the wheel when a car is on fire.
“We have learned through this pandemic that philanthropy does not work in the field of global health, and charity is not the same thing as justice,” he said. “And that’s what countries are looking for – a precise approach to being able to save themselves.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/28/world/covid-vaccines-10-billion-doses.html World passes 10 billion administered doses of Covid vaccine