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WEF agrees Covid-19 vaccine equality is a global concern to contain the pandemic

19th Jan 2022 | Economics

THE WORLD Economic Forum (WEF) has agreed that Covid-19 vaccine equity should be a global concern to prevent the further spread of the pandemic and its associated variants.

Meeting the challenge of vaccine equity was the common sentiment shared at the WEF Davos Agenda 2022 yesterday as the global vaccine apartheid continued unfolding.

This as poor countries continue lagging behind in immunising their populations while rich countries have more than enough supply of the vaccines.

In a session to discuss this, experts agreed that the failure to ensure universal global distribution risked not only bad health outcomes but also economic upheaval and geopolitical tensions.

John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said there had been a collapse of global co-operation and solidarity in the last two years when it comes to vaccine supply.

However, Nkengasong remained optimistic over Africa’s target of reaching 70 percent of the population fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

“I think there is absolutely no reason why the continent of Africa should be lagging behind and having only 7 percent of the population fully immunised, a continent of 1.2 billion people. It’s totally unacceptable,” he said.

“It’s not the type of humanity that we want to project. We need better co-ordination and work as a team. We need to reach that 70 percent target. The moral failures that we witnessed over the last two years cannot repeat themselves again in 2022.”

Seth Berkley, chief executive of the vaccine alliance Gavi, said the Covax programme had been successful, but not without its speed bumps along the way.

Covax is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines directed by the Gavi vaccine alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organization.

“The reality is that the world is moving towards the 70 percent vaccination, the problem is we are leaving huge swathes of the world behind,” Berkeley said.

“As a global population, science and innovation has worked, but our ability to distribute those vaccines equitably in terms of protecting the most vulnerable everywhere has not.”

Serum Institute of India chief executive Adar Poonawalla said the solutions may lie in the standardisation of all the aspects of the fight against the Covid-19, including a universal vaccine passport.

“We need a clear standard for vaccine trials and a harmonised framework for the jab approval,” Poonawalla said.

“Covid vaccine supply is no longer a constraint. We are in a much better place than we were last year. We have also asked Africa to address the vaccine inequity issue.” he said.

By: Siphelele Dludla