Why Inequalities And Advanced COVID-19 Vaccine Purchases Could Hurt Global Economy
The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered the global economy in ways very few could ever imagine. Elevated unemployment levels, overstretched healthcare systems, and non-existent travel are some of the long-running pandemic effects. Close to 2 million people have already succumbed to the deadly virus, with more than 40 million infected.
With no breakthrough yet, vaccines have turned out to the only way of cooling the pandemic. By making it possible for people to develop antibodies to fight off the virus, countries hope to arrest the pandemic once and for all.
As it stands, the exit strategy for many countries is to give COVID-19 vaccines to as many people as possible. By doing so, governments hope to teach people’s bodies to fight infection, prevent others from getting it, and, most importantly make COVID-19 less deadly.
After months of research & trials and billions of dollars, the world appears to be on the pathway to healing from COVID-19. A number of vaccines have succeeded in trials and secured regulatory approval for emergency use worldwide. Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Moderna are the three companies that are on the cusp of saving the world from capitulation amid the coronavirus.
Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
Pfizer was the first company to secure regulatory approval for its coronavirus vaccine developed in partnership with BioNTech. The vaccine succeeded in trials with an efficacy of 95%.
Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine
Moderna is another drug company to have secured regulatory approval for its COVID-19 vaccine. Its vaccine is unique in that it uses tiny fragments of the virus’s genetic code to trigger an immune response.
While the Moderna vaccine uses the same Pfizer approach, it is easier to store as it can stay stable in -20c for up to six months.
AstraZeneca –Oxford Vaccine
The AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine developed in partnership with Oxford University has also secured regulatory approval. The vaccine is made of a weakened version of the common cold virus modified to look more like coronavirus.
The vaccine is designed to prompt the immune system to start making antibodies to attack the coronavirus infection. Its competitive edge stems from the fact that it does not need to be stored in extremely cold conditions of up to -70c.
Being the cheapest of the three, the AstraZeneca vaccine has received the most orders so far. The U.K has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine, enough to vaccinate 50 million people. On its part, Australia has ordered 50 million doses of the vaccine, with Canada ordering 20 million doses.
Worldwide over 2.5 billion AstraZeneca doses have been preordered. The drugmaker plans to fill all the orders by the first quarter of 2021.
COVID-19 Vaccine Race
the unveiling of COVID-19 vaccines that are 90% plus effective might as well have kick-started a vaccines race as countries look to secure key supply chains for the highly sought after remedy. Economic powerhouses are increasingly spending billions of dollars to secure key coronavirus vaccines in advance, much to the disadvantage of poor or developing countries. The likes of the U.S, Canada, the U.K, France, and Israel have already paid billions of dollars for crucial COVID-19 vaccines.
In the race to vaccinate as many people as possible, no countries come close to what Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain have achieved over a short period. The countries have administered the vaccines to 20.93%, 10.99%, and 5.25% of their populations. While the U.S, Denmark, and the U.K have administered jabs to 2%, 1.9%, and 1.94% of the population, the rest of the world lags behind at around 0.5%.
Vaccine Supply Constraints
Likewise, some countries are yet to secure supplies, all but putting at risk the ongoing fight against the virus. Africa and other emerging countries are set to miss out on the largest immunization drive on world powers securing key vaccine supplies in advance.
High-income countries have bought a majority of the approved coronavirus vaccines leaving other countries on the waiting lists awaiting the drug makers to ramp up production. Low and lower middle income countries are at a high risk of being left behind, something that will thwart plans to get the world rid of the virus completely.
With the advanced supply deals in play, some countries could have to wait until 2022 to be able to secure supplies for some of the COVID-19 vaccines.
COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Inequalities
The strategies used to secure COVID-19 vaccines vary widely. Countries such as the US signed advanced COVID-19 vaccine deals as it sought to ensure it was ahead of the pack to avoid supply constraints. By subsidizing the development and manufacturing of some of the vaccines, the U.S ensured it would enjoy preferential treatment when it comes to supplies
Canada is another country that financed some of the development efforts, conversely securing sufficient supplies for 38 million people. The country has dealt with at least seven companies. In contrast, China and Russia opted against inking deals with the drug makers. Instead, the countries opted to rely on domestically produced vaccines such as Sputnik V shots made in Moscow.
One of the biggest undoing to low-income countries in the race to secure key coronavirus vaccines is that the well-oiled nations were able to engage in direct negotiations with vaccine developers. Likewise, the countries secured advance purchases, which must be furnished before supplies are made available to other countries.
Even before the coronavirus vaccines were approved, developed countries had already secured the purchase of 6.8 billion dosses. The drug makers have also reserved about 2.8 billion doses as optional expansion for existing deals.
Vaccination Inequalities Risks
The risks of vaccinating a section of the global population and leaving the rest are much higher. Vaccinating people in some countries and leaving others is likely to deepen existing inequalities, likely to cause a significant toll on the global economy.
The fact that the world economy is highly interconnected makes it increasingly difficult to reap the Coronavirus vaccine’s full benefits on carrying vaccination in some countries and leaving others.
Slow Vaccination Pace
To date, just about 332 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in 45 countries, affirming how the biggest vaccination campaign is still faltering. Unequal access to the much-needed vaccines threatens to keep the global economy under pressure.
For the world economy to bounce back, a majority of the global population needs to be the COVID-19 jabs. Only then will the much-needed normalcy creep in, allowing the global economy’s battered sectors to bounce back.