The world is stepping up against the coronavirus and despite many voices elevating themselves against covid vaccines, almost half of the world’s population has already received the first shot. Currently, there are more than 6 billion doses that have been administered throughout the world. However, the World Health Organisation deems that only 10% of the world’s countries have received 75% of these jabs.
Let’s have a look at Asia. Almost 40 million people have been infected in the South Asian region alone since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic. This is a part of the world which has recorded close to 600,000 deaths over this period, according to official statistics. This is nearly a quarter of worldwide infections to date, as well as a sixth of the number of global fatalities. And they are nowhere near having enough Covid vaccines for their populations.
Many countries are struggling with either receiving, producing or inoculating Covid vaccines to their populations. Many efforts to ensure people receive the required two doses of any vaccine are being thwarted as there are simply not enough jabs available to poorer countries.
Some of them, such as Iran and Vietnam, are resorting to shots not yet approved by the World Health Organisation, according to an article by the South China Morning Post. These would be the Abdala and Soberana 2 vaccines, produced by the Caribbean nation of Cuba. The state had announced that the efficacy of its immunity shot was 98% effective, after conclusive testing.
“While the Cuban efficacy claims have not been peer reviewed, the results, if accurate, would catapult the U.S.-boycotted Caribbean island nation into the select group of the United States, Germany and Russia that produce vaccines with efficacy of more than 90% – Novavax, Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Sputnik V” a Reuters report affirms.
Indeed smaller states and less affluent ones are resorting to the vaccines manufactured in Russia (Sputnik), China (Sinovax) or the Indian Covaxin. Many of these are not recognised in countries where Astra-Zenaca, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer of Moderna vaccines prevail. The latter are green-lighted for travel in some instances.
Another solution for lesser affluent nations has been the Covax ‘vaccine-sharing arrangement’, according to The New York Times, “which originally aimed to provide two billion doses by the end of the year but has repeatedly cut its forecasts because of production problems, export bans and vaccine hoarding by wealthy nations. In its latest projection, it expected to have a total of 1.4 billion doses available by the end of 2021.”
To sum up, there continues to be a conspicuous divide between the higher and lower-income countries of the world and now even when it comes to a life or death matter such as Covid vaccines. Asia and Africa continue to trail behind, with countries such as Bangladesh having less than 10% of its adult population having received only one dose of the Covid jab.
Africa’s figure is even lower, at about 7%. This shows that countries will either have to get more proactive in acquiring Covid vaccines from producers or, like Cuba, delve into its production for themselves.