Covid-19 vaccines, because millions of doses go to waste

Covid-19 vaccines, because millions of doses go to waste

Covid-19 vaccines

December 27, 2020 was an important date for Europe. That day in the old continent the vaccination campaign against the Covid-19 pandemic officially started, which in the previous ten months had already caused a massacre with few precedents. A few weeks earlier The People's Vaccine, an alliance of humanitarian organizations including Amnesty International, Oxfam and Unaids, noted that even before the vaccination campaign began, 14% of the world's population - the richest - had already secured 53% of ready-made vaccines, a figure that rose to 100% for the doses of Moderna.

The fact that access to vaccine doses has been unequal among the countries of the world is an issue that has actually been underlined since from the beginning. Yet, almost two years after the European "Vaccine day" and while in Italy the vaccination campaign seems a distant memory (apart from the fourth dose), in the poorest countries the data on access to doses continue to be very low. This is while richer countries continue to destroy millions of expired vials because they had ordered too many.

You can't get out of the Covid-19 pandemic without equal access to vaccines A study in Nature calculates that by increasing by 46 % vaccine donations to disadvantaged countries would result in a substantial reduction in global mortality: now more than ever it is necessary to support the Covax plan

Pulp vaccines

A few days ago Switzerland announced that it will destroy nine million of doses of Moderna vaccine against Covid-19 because they have expired. To this count, another five million will soon be added, the expiry of which is set at the beginning of 2023 but whose request is effectively zeroed.

The country currently has a vaccination rate of 70% but by now those who wanted to vaccinate have already been vaccinated and therefore nothing more will be done of those 14 million doses. The paradox, however, is that even if the vaccination rate had been 100%, the problem would have arisen the same: in fact, Switzerland had 186 doses available for every 100 inhabitants, this means that the supply was almost double compared to the demand. , with the latter, moreover, calculated in the best of hypotheses and which, on the other hand, was then lower in fact. The Swiss authorities have put a buffer to this situation by sending 3.2 million vaccines to the poorest countries, a strategy that works only in part because these donations were often thrown away as they approached the deadline. Therefore they were not usable.

Canada also found itself in a situation equal to that of Switzerland. In the past few months he has shredded 13.6 million doses of AstraZeneca, which is over half of all AstraZeneca doses he has ever bought. In the spring he had to do the same with another 1.2 million doses. As the British Medical Journal writes, "the country drew criticism at the start of the pandemic as one of the most aggressive vaccine buyers and accumulators among rich countries." Indeed, when development of more vaccines began, Canada signed agreements reserving up to 500 million doses of seven different potential vaccines for the country, for a population of only 38 million. As if that weren't enough, the country also obtained four million doses in the toughest stages of the pandemic from the Covax system, theoretically designed to distribute vaccines to poorer countries. Many of those doses have now expired and will be destroyed, this while in the Covax circuit countries there continue to be availability problems.

The program to provide vaccines against Covid-19 to low-income countries is well below of its goals Delivered one billion doses. That is half of those initially foreseen, while in 88 countries of the world less than 40% of the population has been vaccinated and in another 36 less than 10%

Vaccination inequalities

The industrialized countries at the time they were developed the vaccines have tried to grab everything that can be grabbed, beyond what were the actual needs. The vaccine rush has thus resulted in an enormous waste of doses, as shown by the Swiss and Canadian cases. As the American magazine Quartz wrote as early as August 2021, rich nations have received enough doses to vaccinate four times their population. Elsewhere, however, this is not the case.

According to data from the African Union, only 22.7% of the continent's population has completed the vaccination cycle. In some countries this percentage drops further: in Niger it stands at 6.5%, in Madagascar at 5.4%, in Burundi even at 0.2%, in this case also due to a certain hesitation in the government and in the population. in starting the vaccination campaign.

The pharmaceutical companies and the industrialized countries themselves have appealed to this motivation when it was necessary to justify the serious data on inequality in the purchases of doses and administrations. "There is no doubt that the hesitation narrative about vaccines from poorer countries is rooted in racism and colonialism and the idea that some people don't know how to do certain things," said Fifa Rahman, health consultant at Matahari. Global Solutions. The latter together with the People's Vaccine Alliance and the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition (Itpc) has produced a report which shows how the vaccination deficit in poor countries is a consequence of inadequate supplies, but also of poor adaptability of vaccines in their conservation and administration in the most difficult contexts.

Most doses have been created for the rich country and it is no coincidence that almost all of them have ended up in the richest countries. that countries like the United States have declared the pandemic over, with the consequence that they will no longer buy vaccines, perhaps something could change in the future nation of the poorest areas of the world.

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