Thanks to our brilliant scientists, volunteers, and biopharmaceutical companies we have been able to produce a safe vaccine in a very quick time. Furthermore, the distribution of the vaccine by governments like the UK and Israel has been very efficient. The take up of the vaccine has, also, been incredibly high especially among over 70s. In the developed world, the pandemic is starting to ease. We are at the beginning of the end.
Emerging and developing economies (especially, the poorest), however, are no closer to the end of the pandemic than when it began over a year ago. According to “The People’s Vaccine Alliance” at least 90% of people in the 67 poorest countries have little to no chance of receiving a vaccine in 2021. There are three reasons for this. The first reason is that wealthy nations have reserved more vaccines than they need. This wouldn’t be such a problem had governments been working with low-income countries to solve this distribution and allocation problem, however they’re not. In fact, they’re doing the opposite. Recently, Rishi Sunak cut the percentage spent of GDP spent on foreign aid from 0.7% to 0.5%. The second reason is that developers will not share intellectual property. The third reason can’t be helped, it is despotism and ignorance by leaders like Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli.
To put in bluntly, the answer to this question is that wealthy and powerful countries are ignoring the pleas of poor countries. In the context of the pandemic, the challenge we face is supplying poor countries with much needed aid and vaccinations. If we want this pandemic to end globally, we must start tackling this challenge now.