Fragile nations are doomed to be stuck in an endless cycle of COVID-19 strains, and therefore put nations across the globe at risk, unless the world urgently addresses vaccine inequity and hesitancy, according to World Vision.
As the world faces Omicron, another COVID-19 variant of concern, the international aid agency has warned the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable children and families will only intensify for everyone, everywhere as vaccine inequity continues to leave the door open for further mutations.
It is imperative that disparities and inequities in vaccine roll-outs are addressed to ensure the multiplication in mutant strains is stopped, it said.
- The least wealthy 25 countries still have less than 1 per cent of vaccine doses (in the last six months, only an additional 0.6 per cent of people living in those countries have received vaccines)
- The 77 least wealthy countries have just a quarter of all the available vaccines, but are home to almost half the world’s population, while the wealthiest 106 countries have three jabs out of every four manufactured, for just half the global population
- The UNGA’s goal of 10 per cent vaccination by the end of September 2021 has still not been reached by 27 countries – and that’s just for one dose – the number rises to 37 countries where people have been fully vaccinated
- Yet, half of the countries giving out booster shots (29 of 55) have already given 10 per cent or more of their populations a third dose.
World Vision Australia CEO Daniel Wordsworth said the virus was clearly adapting faster than our efforts to control it.
“None of us is completely safe until all of us are vaccinated, which is why World Vision is urging the acceleration of a more equitable global roll-out of vaccines to be supported by all governments,” Wordsworth said.
“To achieve the shared goal of the fastest possible universal coverage, wealthy countries must work together with low- and middle-income countries to guarantee that vaccine supplies are not only accessible for all but also prepared for vaccine roll-outs.
“That means enabling health systems, training workers, planning vaccine messaging and equipping distributions to reach the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations.”
Wordsworth said the uneven distribution of vaccines not only leaves the disease unchecked, allowing new and potentially more deadly variants to emerge, but also leaves behind less vaccinated countries to have their citizens and economies decimated by waves of COVID-19 infections.
“The faster everyone can get vaccinated everywhere, the less time COVID-19 variants will have to mutate and spread,” he said.
“Expecting poorer and more vulnerable nations who are often also facing compounded crises, such as hunger and conflict, in addition to trying to fight the pandemic, is a disproportionate burden; it is simply too much to expect them to be able to rebound from this without global support.
“This pandemic will not end until all are protected.”