Mexico City – In the past few weeks, Britain and the United States have watched with satisfaction that their citizens have begun to vaccinate against Covid-19 But across much of Latin America, Africa and large parts of Asia, the news was met with a mixture of resignation and anger.
For many people in the developing world, there is still no light at the end of the tunnel.
These countries are struggling to get the long-awaited vaccines after rich nations kept enough doses to vaccinate their populations multiple times.
“International solidarity needs to grow,” Martha Delgado, the Mexican official in charge of negotiating vaccine contracts in the country, told BuzzFeed News. It echoed concerns across the developing world, warning that there will be no end to the global pandemic until everyone gets the vaccine. It wants the United States and other Western countries to think beyond their borders and their immediate needs. “No one will be safe until everyone is vaccinated,” she said.
Canada, for example, has pre-ordered at least four times the amount it needs to vaccinate 38 million citizens. The United Kingdom secured enough to cover nearly three times its population. The European Union and the United States can vaccinate nearly the entire population twice as many doses of vaccine they have reserved. Meanwhile, approx A quarter of the world’s population He won’t be able to reach a vaccine until at least 2022, according to BMJ Medical Journal.
So far, some of the poorest countries hit hard by the virus only have pre-orders to cover a small portion of their population. Peru, where a massive oxygen shortage left the country on the edge of a precipice earlier this year, and El Salvador, where more than 1 in 4 people fall below the poverty line, had pre-booked doses for less than half of their population, according to the New York Times. Analytics.
Countries that have pre-orders but no political or economic clout will have to wait longer than major powers. Mexico, which according to its government has entered into contracts with various pharmaceutical companies to inoculate 116 million of its 126 million citizens against COVID-19, says it will not complete the process until at least March 2022.
After Delgado told the BBC: “At least in Mexico we have the money to buy vaccines,” Xavier Tello, a Mexico City health policy expert, said: Retweeted A post linked to the interview says “I can get money to buy a Tesla myself; but if someone else actually pays, I’m probably on the waiting list.”
Many in Mexico say the country can’t wait any longer. On paper, the country has the fourth highest number of deaths, after only the United States, Brazil and India, but the official number – 118,598 – is likely much less than the true number of victims. There were at least 60,000. “excess“Further deaths during the year 2020.
Health-care workers in Mexico say they are stretched to the limit due to a persistent shortage of personal protective equipment and fatigue – and grief. More than 2,250 doctors, nurses and medical staff DieAccording to government figures. With nearly three times the population of Mexico, some do 1500 healthcare workers They died in the United States.
Who gets the number of vaccines and when, has opened an unprecedented ethical debate. Should governments prioritize their own citizens? Should the first vaccines be allocated to a specific proportion of the population of each country? Should initial doses be given to people at risk worldwide before they are distributed to those without comorbidities?
Arthur Kaplan, chair of the division of medical ethics at the New York University School of Medicine, said he is partly advocating for the first school of thought – the vaccination nationalists. Countries that can afford them should take care of themselves first, “plus a little more for insurance,” in the event that current vaccines only provide immunity for a limited period of time and need to be boosted in the near future.
But when it comes to making a more ethical decision, Kaplan said that once a state vaccinates healthcare workers, the elderly, and people with pre-existing conditions, it must move to vaccinate the same populations in other countries afterward before vaccinating young adults and adults. Danger of the population.
COVID-19 has wreaked havoc in the world so much that equality is not part of decision-making when it comes to distributing vaccines between countries.
“Rich countries are so bad that they don’t even think about it,” Kaplan told BuzzFeed News.
While the second option – allocating vaccines to an equal number of people in each country – may seem more equitable, it may end up being ineffective. Ignacio Mastrolio, Argentine expert in medical ethics and part of The World Health Organization (WHO) expert group on ethics and the COVID-19 virus has noted that giving Peru and Poland the same amount of vaccines, for example, would not take into account that the virus killed 11,600 more people in the former than the latter (their population is 32 million and 38 million respectively) .
Mastrolio said this option is “not sensitive to the needs of the population,” adding that the poverty rate in Peru is ten times higher than in Poland.
If there is a positive side, Masterulio said, it is that, unlike the 2009 swine flu pandemic, there are efforts by international organizations to support equal access to the vaccine this time. One of those mechanisms, established by the World Health Organization and known as COVAX, is a global suite of vaccines that poor countries can access. But the program will only provide less than 20% of the population of 92 low- and middle-income countries.
It is likely that inequality in access to vaccines will occur not only between countries, but within them, leaving millions of vulnerable people without protection against the virus. On Monday, Colombian President, Ivan Duque, announced during the Interview With Radio Blue there are no plans to vaccinate undocumented people, saying that if the country does so, it could lead to a “stampede” of immigrants to Colombia. There are currently 1.7 million Venezuelans living in Colombia, and about 55% of them do not hold citizenship. Most of them fled the economic collapse and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.
Relief for millions of people may not come until the end of 2021 or even later, when countries with excess amounts of vaccines sell or donate them to poor countries, according to Delgado.
“This is the wrong strategy,” said Delgado. Relief will come to the whole world sooner when people stop “looking for their salvation.”