Vaccine Apartheid: Covid-19 exposes global inequalities.

In a global capitalist system, it is undeniable that inequalities will always exist. In this regard, the outbreak of covid-19 has further increased the gap between and within countries. Unfortunately, the poor are bearing the consequences.
Poor and developing countries are lagging behind. While Germany, Israel, and the UK are preparing for a wide range immunization programs, poor people are denied access to health protection and vaccination. In addition to the deteriorating economic conditions, Third World countries are unable to vaccinate their people. The United States, that supposedly brands itself as the ‘police of the world,’ failed to provide a real solution to the poor.
David Miliband, President and CEO at the International Red Cross (IRC), said, “As the pandemic continues to claim lives and destroy livelihoods worldwide, with variants now arising in several countries, the wealthiest countries have continued purchasing enough doses to cover their entire populations several times over — highlighting and exacerbating the extreme inequality faced by people living in conflict and crisis.
“Now is the time for bold action: commit to share excess vaccine doses and to provide the financial support needed to help low-income countries actually distribute the doses once received — or risk pushing the end of this pandemic even further out of sight”, he added.
The EU is now taking some steps to enforce the ‘digital vaccination passport’. In this regard, you will have to get vaccinated in order to travel abroad. While it is undeniable that this step is necessary to curb the international spread of the virus, it may restrict Third World citizens from travelling abroad.
Almost 100 countries have not even started the vaccination program.. Add to this, international reports show that developing countries are unlikely to provide an efficient vaccination program until 2024.
Earlier this week, President Joe Biden announced his administration’s plan to purchase an additional 100 million doses of the single dose Johnson & Johnson covid vaccine.
During his first week in office, Mr Biden made various decisions to ensure that the U.S. can fight the pandemic effectively. However, medical apartheid is on the rise, and serious action should be taken.
Despite its ethical intentions to curb global inequality, the COVAX initiative, supported by the WHO to ensure the vaccine’s access to the world’s most vulnerable, will remain ineffective, if rich countries fail to abide by their commitments to help the unprivileged.
Covax has raised $6bn (£4.3bn), but the scheme says it needs at least another $2bn (£1.4bn) to meet its target for 2021. Add to this, the main problem is not the lack of money, but limited supply. It is highly agreed that Biden’s decision to grant 4 Billion dollars to the initiative, will not solve the problem, unless there is a real commitment from the developed countries to help in supplying vaccines to the global south. Rich countries are purchasing more and more vaccines, leaving the developing countries with limited supply.
“If there are no vaccines to buy, money is irrelevant,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
According to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit research group, parts of Africa, south America, and Asia are unlikely to receive enough vaccinations until 2023.
“’Three-quarters of global vaccinations have taken place in only ten countries, while 130 countries don’t have access to a single vaccine,’ the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, told the UN Security Council meeting on 17 February. He described the goal of providing vaccines to all as ‘the biggest moral test before the global community’”.
The Covax initiative is appreciated and welcomed, but charity is not enough. Private pharmaceutical companies refuse to share information about the vaccination. Some developing countries demanded the suspension of intellectual property rights for Covid 19 vaccines. However, the UK, US, Canada, and Australia sided with these companies to oppose the proposal.
Given their purported dedication to the human rights cause, the democracies are obliged to help the most vulnerable in the world.
Mr. Biden adopts hostile rhetoric against Mohamed Bin Salman and Putin for the deteriorating human rights condition in their countries. But the U.S. administration is not saving the lives of Palestinians, Africans, and Latin Americans who are in serious need for vaccinations. In short, without a multilateral approach, the people of the global south will continue suffering.

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