Vaccine inequality threatens economic recovery

03 Dec, 2021 - 00:12 0 Views
Vaccine inequality threatens economic recovery Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

The Herald

GENEVA. – The unequal distribution of Covid-19 vaccines worldwide could have a dampening effect on the economic recovery, the World Trade Organisation director-general  Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, (pictured), warned yesterday, saying she is “very concerned” about the matter.

Richer nations have hoarded the highest number of limited Covid shots, while many low-income nations have struggled to get their hands on the much-needed vaccines.

Data collected by the WTO, the World Health Organisation and the International Monetary Fund show that whereas the US has secured 248 percent of produced vaccines as a percentage of its population, this rate is only 30 percent for Mali and 56 percent for Kenya.

To be sure, just 7 percent of Africa’s population have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to data compiled by Our World in Data. The European Union and the U.S., meanwhile, have fully vaccinated around 67 percent and 58 percent of their populations respectively.

“The level of inequity is quite high,” Okonjo-Iweala said in an exclusive interview.

She noted that the economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic is linked to two determinants: the amount of monetary and fiscal stimulus and the access to vaccines.

“I am very concerned that if we continue with the inequity that will have a dampening effect on (the) recovery in those countries,” the Nigerian-born official said.

The question of vaccine access comes shortly after health authorities in South Africa reported a new Covid variant: omicron.

Health experts have long argued that the coronavirus will continue to thrive as long as parts of the world lack vaccines.

In the wake of the new variant, some countries re-imposed travel restrictions. This was the case of Switzerland, which went as far as imposing a 10-day quarantine for travellers from certain countries.

“They should not have been closed so hastily,” Okonjo-Iweala said about border restrictions, highlighting this action could be a disincentive for nations to share Covid-related information.

The trade organisation was once again forced to postpone a key meeting scheduled for this week due to the discovery of the new Covid variant.

“It was a very painful decision,” Okonjo-Iweala said. The delay is seen as a blow to hopes of temporarily waiving patents for Covid vaccines and achieving more equitable access to vaccines.– CNBC

Share This:

Sponsored Links