The failure to distribute vaccines to poorer countries, according to former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is a “stain on our global soul.”
Without a push to get the entire world vaccinated next year, he said, coronavirus would “come back to haunt” every country.
Eight billion Covid vaccines have been distributed worldwide to date.
However, the vast majority of these have been distributed in high- and middle-income countries.
According to the World Health Organization, 98 countries have yet to reach the target of vaccinating 40% of their populations.
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In the United Kingdom, the United States, and France, about three-quarters of the population has received a vaccine, compared to 80 percent in Japan. Only one in every 20 Nigerians has been stabbed, while only 8% of Ethiopians have been stabbed.
Only one out of every four African healthcare workers is immunized.
Low vaccination rates have been linked to the emergence of new coronavirus variants like Omicron, which was first discovered in South Africa and is now spreading rapidly around the world.
Mr. Brown told the BBC World Service that the unequal distribution of Covid vaccines was caused by wealthy countries hoarding and stockpiling vaccines, and that it was “one of the greatest policy failures of our time.”
If better vaccine access is not achieved soon, he predicts that another five million people will die from the virus around the world.
Mr. Brown served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2007 to 2010. “It’s a stain on our global soul, and it affects us all,” she says. “I think people are starting to realize that if we let the disease spread in poor countries and the virus mutates, it will come back to haunt even the fully vaccinated.” He stated
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“We have the technology,” he said, arguing that the task was doable. We’ve got the know-how, and we’re now producing 1.5 billion vaccines per month. We could get them out to people, and if we don’t, we’ll all suffer.”
Some vaccine supplies in Nigeria arrived too close to their expiration date and had to be discarded.
Mr. Brown expressed his hope that world leaders would come together and agree to make vaccine distribution a priority starting in 2022.
He also wants more funding for healthcare systems that are already underfunded, as well as better distribution of Covid-19 testing equipment and treatments.
He felt sorry for the young who had lost a year or two of their lives as a father of teenage boys. He continued,
Given the trillions of dollars at stake in global trade, he argued that ensuring more equitable access to vaccines would be well worth it in terms of both economics and improving everyone’s mental health.
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A top WHO official stated on Wednesday that the world was still in the “middle” of the pandemic.
“Getting vaccines to those who need them most must be a priority for every government – not just some,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove.
“If we don’t, the virus will continue to evolve and threaten us in ways that bring us closer to the beginning rather than the end.”