Sunday, June 20

Political leaders must ensure that Covid vaccines are not the exclusive property of the wealthy | Jeremy farrar


In the last few days, the major powers have responded to the terrible crisis unfolding in India. The US government’s decision to share 10 million vaccine doses in weeks, and up to 50 million more during the summer, is welcome and urgently needed. New Zealand, Norway and France have also responded to the demand for vaccines to be shared fairly worldwide. But frankly, no country is acting on the necessary scale.

This pandemic is far from over. The scenes in India, where Covid-19 continues to overwhelm healthcare systems and sink the economy, are heartbreaking. In many countries, hospitals are flooded with patients and face shortages of vital medical supplies.

Globally, I fear the worst is yet to come. Around the world, there have been almost 100,000 deaths reported in the 10 days from Global total passed the 3m mark. Due to the lack of data collection, it is likely that the actual figure much higher. Every death is a tragedy, the loss of a loved one, an untold story.

Why, when we have vaccines and treatments for Covid, do we keep seeing horrible reports of this virus sweeping through communities? The responsibility for this rests with the world’s political leaders. While science has made significant progress, producing vaccines, treatments and tests in record time, the G20 has failed to come together and support the sustained global response that is desperately needed.

This puts our hard-earned scientific progress at risk. Science is only useful if it is delivered to society. Until vaccines and tests for Covid are available to all, we will not be able to stop this pandemic and its devastating consequences. Ensuring that the world’s population has access is the best way to reduce transmission, reduce deaths, and prevent dangerous new variants from emerging.

It is simply not acceptable that, while an estimated one in four people In high-income countries they have received the Covid vaccine, only one in 500 has received the injection in low-income countries, or that hospitals in poorer countries still have difficulty accessing basic supplies such as oxygen, sedatives and PPE. Health workers in all countries, taking risks to protect us all, must be first in line for vaccines.

Right now, world political leaders are the only people who can make these essential resources available. Rich countries, including the UK and the US, I have bought most existing vaccine supplies. They urgently need to start sharing these doses with the rest of the world, along with national launches in their own countries, and through the Covax program. And they must set a timeline for how these donations will grow as they vaccinate more of their populations nationwide.

The UK is in the perfect position to lead these efforts through its G7 presidency. Half of our population, including those most at risk of contracting Covid, have received at least one dose of the vaccine. In fact, the UK has administered almost as many doses to its own citizens as Covax. has been able to send to 120 countries in dire need of coups. Covax and Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator are ready to make vital vaccines and medicines available where they are needed most, but can only deliver them with the real support of political leaders.

Vaccinating everyone is not only morally correct, it is in the scientific, public health, and economic interest of every nation. The shores where Covid is now raging may seem far away to some, but the reality is that as long as the virus continues to spread in other countries, it will remain a threat to all. If we allow Covid to continue to spread, it will continue to evolve, increasing the risk of new variants that could cross borders and evade vaccines and treatments. With global infections at an all-time high, this is a very real risk. We are playing with fire. The first vaccines cannot be the exclusive property of the wealthy.

At the same time, science must keep pace with the evolution of the virus and develop the next generation of vaccines that protect against future waves and variants. This will require developing global manufacturing capacity and combining all the necessary tools to combat the virus: public health, honest communication, testing, sequencing, oxygen, PPE, treatments, and vaccines. We have made remarkable progress in developing the first crucial vaccines, treatments and tests over the past year, driven in large part by the work of the ACT-Accelerator. This initiative still need $ 19 billion (£ 13.5 billion) to finish pushing the science forward and ensure these benefits are distributed equitably around the world – a small amount compared to the trillions of dollars governments are spending on stimulus packages to address the consequences. Economic Covid.

If countries that can afford to share choose not to, this pandemic will drag on, leading to more death, suffering and economic hardship. We are in danger of creating a fragmented and unequal world of rich and poor, where it will be much more difficult to come together and address the shared challenges of this century.

We can get out of this crisis and turn Covid into a treatable and preventable disease in 2021. But we can only do this if everyone countries benefit equally from scientific advances in treating the virus, and whether science has enough support to keep up as the virus evolves. There can be no more delays or excuses. The longer we wait, the worse it will be for all of us. The political leaders of the world have a choice to make. It should be easy.


www.theguardian.com

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