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Access to vaccines is unequal


Just as the world seemed to be recognizing from the destructive effects of COVID-19 and its multiple strains, a new, potentially more deadly, version has threatened countries around the world. The omicron, dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, might prove to be more contagious than previous strains, forcing several nations to block their borders. The fight against the epidemic, which has claimed the lives of millions of people throughout the world, is far from done.
Last week, the WHO cautioned that the worldwide hazards posed by the new coronavirus variation were extremely high, and that the increased number of variants might lead to “future COVID-19 surges.”
It’s unclear how successful the current vaccinations will be in protecting against the virus’s rapid mutation. The new strain appeared just as scientists were making tremendous progress in developing vaccines to combat the virus as we know it. Concerns have been raised about omicron’s ability to avoid antibodies in the new strain.
The international health organization’s fears may not be overblown. Despite this, there are still significant gaps in the worldwide response to the pandemic’s threat. Like the other strains, the new variety arose from a location with low vaccination coverage. Omicron is thought to have originated in southern African nations where immunisation rates are exceedingly low.
Vaccines against COVID were in the works, according to scientists. So, what’s next? It has brought to light the global disparities in the fight against the illness. While developed nations have complete control over vaccine distribution, many developing countries are still unable to get even a limited amount. They are unable to vaccinate even a tiny portion of their people. That might also be a contributing factor in the emergence of dangerous mutations in nations with low immunisation rates. However, other experts believe that current vaccinations will provide protection against the new form as well.
According to the UNDP, WHO, and Oxford University-led Global Dashboard for Vaccine Equity, just 3.07 percent of individuals in low-income countries have received at least one dose of vaccine, compared to 60.18 percent in high-income nations. In the United Kingdom, roughly 71 percent of people who have gotten at least one vaccine have done so, but in the United States, about 65 percent have done so.
Other high-income and middle-income countries may not be performing so well in comparison to these data. However, the situation is dire in some of the world’s poorest nations, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, where just 0.09 percent of people have gotten one dosage; Papua New Guinea has a somewhat better rate of 1.15 percent.
Surprisingly, the emergence of the new strain also poses a threat to the more industrialised nations. No number of precautions can completely safeguard a country from a pandemic. To limit the new type, most governments moved immediately, placing travel restrictions on a half-dozen southern African countries.
South Africa, predictably, has responded angrily to the travel restriction, claiming that the West is discriminating against a “region that has previously been hampered by vaccine shortages caused by wealthy countries stockpiling doses.” Despite the stringent travel restrictions, the Omicron variety has now been found in a number of European nations.
It’s a very terrifying scenario. Countries that had reopened their borders are now reverting to some of the limitations imposed at the start of the outbreak. The restriction on all foreign tourists has been reinstated in several nations.
While a travel ban may be essential in some nations, would it be enough to end the rising pandemic? The patchwork of travel bans hasn’t proven to be very effective so far. Without an equal worldwide strategy to fighting a potentially lethal infection, the ever-mutating virus cannot be properly tamed.
The virus’s unrelenting spread has been attributed to inequitable vaccination distribution and a monopoly on Covid-19 vaccines held by a few nations. Although vaccine supply to less developed and non-vaccine-producing nations has increased in recent months, the gap remains significant. Statistics reveal that the situation has remained mostly unchanged, with poorer countries lagging far behind in vaccination their populations.
Pakistan, like the other countries, has adopted certain preventative steps, such as prohibiting travel from southern African countries. Still, additional vigilance is required to prevent the spread of the new variety. Pakistan has done a good job of limiting the various strains of COVID-19 thus far, with infection positive rates hovering around 1%. There may be no need to be concerned. However, there is no time to unwind as another viral strain emerges.
Despite some substantial advances in the vaccination programme, a large percentage of individuals in this country remain unvaccinated. Only 22.5 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated, despite the fact that around 36 percent of the population has received one dosage. This is far lower than India, where 32 percent of the population is completely vaccinated.
A few major cities have considerably higher rates of completely immunised residents than the rest of the country. This is quite disappointing since it implies that the majority of the population is at risk of infection. With the new variety increasing the risk, the vaccination programme must be accelerated. It’s a key step in resuming some semblance of normalcy in your life.
The advent of the new strain has brought attention to the necessity for a more comprehensive worldwide response to the epidemic. No country, no matter how wealthy or resourceful, is immune to the pandemic. If the industrialised world does not wake up to the danger, the ‘variant of concern’ might represent a larger threat. The pandemic’s persistence is due in large part to the uneven distribution of immunizations.