For many, the threat of Covid-19 has receded and they have moved on.
For many others, it remains a risk.
Just one in seven people in low-income countries fully vaccinated. By comparison, nearly three in four people in high-income nations have been vaccinated for around a year.
The international target to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population against Covid by mid-2022 was missed because poorer countries were at the “back of the queue” when vaccines were rolled out.
“Unless we achieve equitable action in addressing this pandemic, it will always remain with us in the world,” said Kavengo Matundu, Africa coordinator for Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), who has been working with frontline groups on the Covid response. “It has shown that it is capable of mutating into anything, and can become something more dangerous than the original.”
“As much as there’s all this naive and hopeful talk, when push comes to shove, we cannot count on rich countries to do the right thing,” said Maaza Seyoum, Global South convenor of the People’s Vaccine Alliance. “The poorest countries in the world have ended up at the back of the queue, creating the sense that some lives matter more than others.”
According to figures as of 10 July, only 15.8% of people in low-income countries were fully vaccinated, compared with 55% in lower-middle income countries, 73.5% in high-income countries and 78.7% in upper-middle income countries. Africa has the lowest number of vaccinated people. Seven of the 10 countries with the world’s lowest rates of full-vaccination are in Africa. The other three countries are Papua New Guinea, Haiti and Yemen. The UK’s booster vaccination rate is already far higher than these countries’ standard vaccination rates.
For the period up to 9 June, shows that Canada, Australia and the UK have bought enough vaccine doses to vaccinate their populations several times over: 11.1, 9.9 and 7.6 doses per person, respectively. In contrast, South Africa was able to buy the equivalent of 0.5 doses per person. The African Union’s purchase of 330m doses of Moderna and Janssen vaccines equated to just 0.2 doses a person across the bloc. Neither AstraZeneca vaccine and Moderna are suitable for countries without decent transport and cold chain infrastructure.
Seyoum said: “Rich countries keep thinking that if they just protect themselves, they’re going to get out of the pandemic, but that is, on a public health front, completely ridiculous. It sounds trite, but as the head of WHO said last year: none of us is safe until we’re all safe.”