The world has enough vaccines to put an end to the acute phase of the epidemic by the end of the year. But the doses must be evenly distributed by December if this goal is to be achieved.
This Thursday, the World Health Organization and the United Nations launched a global vaccination plan. The first step is to reach 40% of the population of each country by the end of 2021, which will mean the end of the acute phase of the crisis. At a second, the target is 70% until June 2022. For this, the plan needs $8 billion in addition to technology transfer.
In the assessment of entities, there is no shortage of products or supplies in the coming months. But the biggest obstacle is the concentration of doses in the hands of a small number of countries.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, warned that not distributing vaccines today is “not only immoral, it is also stupid.” The logic is simple: while huge populations are unprotected, they can generate new types of virus that, at some point, can create resistance to the vaccine. Thus, this mutation could return to attack countries that have spent billions of dollars vaccinating their populations, destroying the entire immunization effort.
Both the United Nations and the World Health Organization point out that there is no longer a problem with producing doses. A month later, 1.5 billion vaccines are produced, so by mid-2022 the world will see the manufacture of 11 billion doses.
Today, 6.5 billion doses have been administered and a third of the world is protected. But 75% of them went only to rich countries and major emerging countries, compared to only 5% in Africa.
For António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, “the uneven distribution of vaccines is the epidemic’s biggest ally, allowing variables to gain space, deaths and trillions of dollars in losses.”
Guterres revealed that he proposed the creation of a committee made up of companies and governments to ensure this universal vaccination. “But I didn’t hear,” I regret. According to him, instead of a plan, what was seen was nationalism and vaccine diplomacy. For Guterres, this path failed.
Guterres warns that the first target set by the World Health Organization, to vaccinate 10% of each country’s population by the end of September, has not been met. “We didn’t even come close,” he lamented. More than 50 countries were off target and would only need a week of global production to reach the target.
For the UN Secretary-General, he appealed to the G20 countries to stop simply making promises and making their donations.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Ghebreyesus, has also warned that the world is “on the verge of failure” if a vaccine is not taken for everyone. “There is no problem with the presentation. But with the distribution,” he said. “We have enough doses if they are distributed,” he insisted.
One of the mechanisms advocated by the World Health Organization to ensure the distribution of vaccines is the suspension of patents. But Europeans and a few countries reject such an agreement. Bruce Aylward, the agency’s representative, requested that the Brazilian government help other countries come to an understanding, given its expertise on the subject and its production capacity.
For Tedros, if there is a treaty that allows such patent infringement, it is time to use it. “If not, we have to ask ourselves why there is.”
To achieve the goals, the United Nations and the World Health Organization recommend governments to:
Changing vaccine delivery schedules with COVAX to increase coverage in countries in need;
– Fulfill and expedite short-term distribution of vaccines and donation commitments to COVAX to those with existing pledges;
– Create new commitments for dose-sharing to facilitate progress towards the target of 70% coverage in each country.
Vaccine producing countries must:
Allowing the free flow of vaccines and ready-made raw materials;
Allow diversified production of vaccines, both geographically and technologically, including through non-exclusive and transparent licensing and knowledge sharing to allow technology transfer and industrialization expansion.
COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers must:
– Prioritizing and promptly implementing COVAX contracts;
Provide full transparency on global monthly production of COVID-19 vaccines and clear monthly schedules of supplies to COVAX, AVAT and LMICs, to allow proper planning at global and national levels and optimum use of scarce supplies;
Engaging and actively working with countries with high coverage that have contracted large volumes of vaccines to enable prioritization of COVAX and AVAT contracts, including through delivery schedule changes, and to facilitate rapid and early dose sharing;
Commit to faster knowledge sharing, facilitate technology transfer and provide transparent and non-exclusive voluntary licenses to ensure that future vaccine supplies are reliable, affordable, available and spread across all countries with equitable access volumes and deadlines.
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