A picture of two pandemics: Covid cases occur in the rich West, while poor countries suffer | Corona Virus


TThe past seven days have been a picture of two epidemics. Among the world’s richest countries, well-resourced lockdowns and vaccine campaigns, which monopolized the global supply of early doses, have reduced infections and deaths. Economies opened slowly. Restrictions have been lifted. Life has crept closer to normal, giving the wrong impression of an imminent end to the global pandemic.

In fact, as WHO chief Tedros Adhanom noted, more cases have been reported in the past two weeks compared to the entire first six months of the pandemic, with South Asia bearing the brunt.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) echoed this Friday. “The epidemic is not over yet,” she said. “Covid-19 cases are rising at an alarming rate across South Asia, especially in Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Entire health systems could collapse, leading to more tragic losses of life. Besides South Asia, we are also seeing worrying situations in parts of Other than the world. “

Such as India Once again it broke world records for new cases (414,188) and deaths (3,915), and the question of how to characterize and respond to an emerging two-speed world has occupied international leaders.

In the foreground, the baffling question was how to increase and deliver vaccine production to ensure a more equitable distribution, with only 0.2% of the 700 million vaccines distributed so far in low-income countries.

Gordon Brown“This is a man-made catastrophe. By failing to scale up vaccination more quickly to every country, we are choosing who lives and who dies,” the former British prime minister said, speaking at a WHO press conference at the start of the week.

By midweek, the vaccine patent waiver campaign, backed by Brown, had the backing of the Biden administration, and somewhat less of the European Union.

The truth, experts have pointed out, is that extending vaccine justice to the developing world is likely to be more complex.

The recent catastrophic resurgence of Coronavirus in South Asia, India and Nepal in particular, Was driven by factors more complex than just vaccine shortages, not least in India, where the Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine producer, has already been licensed to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The spread of the virus has been determined at the national level and within countries through multiple issues, including demographics, political decisions on prevention and mitigation measures, and the relative strength or vulnerability of health systems. In the developing world, other factors included failure to distribute vaccines that became available and frequency of vaccines.

All this was confirmed by the World Health Organization’s warning that African countries were subject to a similar synchronization of the conditions that led to the current crisis in South Asia.

A COVID patient receives oxygen while lying on a bed outside the emergency ward of a hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Friday.
A Covid patient receives oxygen on a bed outside the emergency ward of a hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Friday. Photo: Niranjan Shrestha / Associated Press

“Delayed delivery of vaccine doses from the serum institute India The WHO Regional Office for Africa said in a statement on Thursday, that the delay in the deployment of vaccines and the emergence of new variants, intended for Africa, means that the risk of a new wave of infections is still very high in Africa. She said new variants, such as the ones that appeared in India And South Africa, could unleash a “third wave” on the continent.

Already there are troubling signs in it EgyptThis week, which imposed tight new restrictions, after the average daily new cases doubled from about 500 in early February to just over 1,000, and hot spots of the epidemic appeared in the southern governorate of Sohag and Cairo.

“The tragedy should not happen in India here in Africa, but we must all be on high alert,” said Machidisu Moeti, WHO Regional Director. “As we advocate for vaccination equity, Africa must also take action and make the most of what we have. We must get all the doses that we have in the arms of the people.”

The World Health Organization said that some African countries were exemplary in disseminating vaccines, without naming them. However, she added, less than “half of the 37 million doses received in Africa have been administered so far.”

The World Health Organization said Africa now accounts for only 1% of vaccine doses administered globally, down from 2% a few weeks ago, as vaccine distribution programs in other regions are progressing much faster.

Deliveries of the first vaccines to 41 African countries under the Covax plan began in March, but nine countries have so far provided only a quarter of the doses received, while 15 countries have used less than half of their allocations.

There are concerns about how errors in predicting the second and third waves of the virus, marked by the emergence of new and more contagious variants, will affect the most vulnerable countries in the developing world. Writing for the New York TimesEsther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, recipients of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for their work on poverty alleviation, said action needs to be taken now to anticipate where Covid-19 will happen next.

However, the most important thing is that we must anticipate the possibility of the virus spreading through Africa, as the vaccination campaign that has begun is now barely threatened by the situation in India, which has stopped exporting the vaccines that many countries were relying on.

This would spell disaster in countries where oxygen supplies and hospital beds are severely limited. The United States and Europe Need to be ready to act quickly when necessary. That means shipping and manufacturing vaccines as quickly as possible, and perhaps more urgently, and that means investing in global monitoring and testing, preparing to ship oxygen and equipment and providing financial support to people in quarantine.

That message was reinforced by Anthony Fauci, the Biden administration’s chief medical advisor, who said – while welcoming the patent waiver initiative – that in the meantime, the West needs to support vaccine companies in increasing production to make vaccines available to the developing world.

Workers cleansing the Fatih Mosque in Cairo
Workers cleansing the Fatih Mosque in Cairo. There are worrying signs that the city may become a new virus hotspot. Photograph: Mohamed Hossam / EPA

“I am certainly not against anything that can quickly get doses of vaccine into the arms of people in the developing world,” Fauci told Politico. “I feel so strongly that we have a moral obligation as a rich country, to really put our forces into our resources to help those who would otherwise die because they were in a country in which they were born.

“After I went through a terrible situation, with nearly 600,000 people in [the US] After we die, we want to feel really comfortable because we’ve completely cut off the transmission chain before we do anything else.

You can increase production by investing resources in companies that are already doing this. And you can do it in a way that you say ramps up, but it will be for the developing world as well as us. “

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