UN Secretary General António Guterres said Wednesday that the distribution of vaccines around the world was “tremendously unfair and unequal.” Only 10 countries have administered 75% of all Covid-19 vaccines, while more than 130 countries have not received a single dose. He said: “Those affected by conflict and insecurity are at particular risk of being left behind. At this critical moment, vaccine equity is the greatest moral test before the world community. “
It comes as charities claimed that G7 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US) have collectively pre-ordered 1.5 billion more vaccines than the size of its population.
Christian Aid’s head of advocacy, Fiona Smyth, said: “We need the G7 nations to show values of equality and solidarity, and stop stockpiling excessive supplies of vaccines. It is time for you to share vaccine recipes with the world so that we can produce enough vaccines for the world, not just the richest countries and people. The G7 must ensure that companies share their information, data, biological material, know-how, technology and intellectual property. “
Johnson will say the UK will share surplus vaccines and promises to cut the time it takes to develop a vaccine from the record 300 days achieved last year to 100 days.
While the UK has experienced one of the world’s highest coronavirus death rates per capita, it has thrived in vaccine development, purchasing and distribution, with one of the largest orders for successful injections.
Johnson confirmed that he has asked Sir Patrick Vallance, the UK’s chief scientific adviser, to work with international partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and experts scientists and industry, to advise the G7 to accelerate the process of developing vaccines, treatments and tests for common pathogens.
Developing a coronavirus vaccine in roughly 300 days has been widely seen as a major global achievement, but competition between companies, different regulatory approval processes, and trade secrecy may have created delays. The ambition to reduce the process to 100 days was proposed by CEPI earlier this year.
The UK believes that increased international collaboration to intensify research and development, modernize medical trials and create more innovative vaccine supply chains and manufacturing could speed up the process and save lives. Advanced Western economies have been unable to find a way to suppress the virus, except through near-total shutdowns of their economies.
The UK, like the US, has previously ordered or purchased four times more vaccines than its population needs, but officials said they won’t be able to identify the actual size of the surplus until much later in the year. Officials should assess the continued reliability of the supply chain and whether new vaccines are needed for the variants or as booster doses in the fall. Countries say they “over-ordered” as there was no certainty that any particular vaccine would be successful or when it would be available, so rather than backing a single horse, countries are spreading their bets.
Macron’s initiative and the accompanying interview in the Financial Times more directly acknowledge the damaging perception that the West is ignoring the plight of the poor and, as a result, needs to move quickly by delivering 5% of its supplies. He described the plan as a “test of multilateralism. It’s not about vaccine diplomacy. It is not a power game, it is a public health issue ”.
He argued that unless the vaccine is controlled everywhere, the virus will mutate and return to Europe in new, more virulent forms. He also addressed the issue of ending control of intellectual property rights by pharmaceutical companies and said he did not think the debate would be useful.
The G7 nations, instead of shipping vaccines directly to Africa, have been funding a complex scheme known as Covax to provide vaccines. All vaccines purchased by Covax first require WHO approval prior to distribution. Oxford / AstraZeneca, one of the vaccines Covax is based on, had to wait until this week to receive WHO approval.
The drug seemed best suited for countries like Africa, as it is easier to ship and store in a normal refrigerator than other vaccines, making it suitable for remote areas. Some 2.3 billion doses of the AstraZeneca two-shot regimen were previously purchased. At least 50 countries had authorized its use before the WHO decision.
But questions have been raised about the efficacy of the injection against some strains such as the one discovered in South Africa, and some countries are limiting its use. Many African countries do not have the ability to detect the nature of the active Covid strains in their country. Rather, China has been shipping its vaccine to the Sahel, Turkey, and Serbia.
Johnson will also encourage G7 leaders to increase their funding for Covax in support of equitable access to vaccines. The UK has already pledged £ 548 million and Germany is expected to increase its funding at the summit.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism