Thursday, September 08, 2022

Vaccine Aparheid

 Data show that only one in seven people are fully covid vaccinated in low-income countries. In contrast, almost three in four people have been fully vaccinated for a year in high-income countries. 

Fatima Hassan, human rights lawyer and founder of South African-based In the case of COVID-19, many saw the international rules that allow pharmaceutical companies to protect their intellectual property (IP) as simply reinforcing existing disparities between countries.civil society group Health Justice Initiative, sees the current disparity in Monkeypox vaccine access as the latest example of the Global South, and Africa especially, being disadvantaged in the global health space.

“We still as Africa don’t have any supplies of monkeypox vaccines, even though as a continent, we’ve been dealing with this disease for a number of years. So on one level, now that it’s become a Global North problem, the vaccines have been found for them, but not for us.”

“We did all those trials; we’ve contributed to the knowledge generation and to the scientific knowledge that allowed [pharmaceutical companies] to get emergency use authorization. But we were not guaranteed supplies or access or preferential access. So the deeper inequity in this entire setup was also that the Global South was asked to participate in the research and the trials, but there was no regulated way of ensuring […] genuine benefit sharing agreements.”

Monkeypox can be combated with smallpox vaccines, which are 85 percent effective against the virus. Since the disease was eradicated in 1980, the WHO has had 31 million doses set aside for a rapid response in case smallpox should re-emerge. The organization is currently assessing the potency of this stockpile and whether it can be deployed against Monkeypox.

However, these doses have never been distributed in Africa, where Monkeypox has circulated since the 1970s. The continent is also facing a much higher death rate. When the WHO declared a global health emergency, the only deaths recorded were from West and Central Africa, where 4.7 percent of people who contracted the disease had died.

Several wealthy countries signed contracts with pharmaceutical companies, helping finance private sector research and development, in exchange for prioritized access to vaccine supply. When companies eventually developed successful vaccines, the technology they used was restricted from being shared with the global community. Nations that lacked both the technology and the resources to purchase on the open market resources had to rely on vaccine donations from rich countries that came several months later.

Inequitable Health Responses Underscore Need for More Self-Sufficiency | Inter Press Service (

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