Sixty-seven of the world’s poorest countries will only be able to vaccinate a tenth of their population against Covid-19 in 2021 as rich countries hoard jabs, new research has revealed.
Yet despite the international Covax pledge to ensure vaccines are distributed fairly to all countries, the reality is that rich nations including the UK have secured enough of the leading candidates to immunise their total populations three times over by the end of 2021 while others have nowhere near enough.
Canada is the country with the most doses secured per person – they could immunise everyone five times within a year.
The disparities have been called out by the People’s Vaccine Alliance (PVA), a group of campaigning organisations including Oxfam, Amnesty International, Frontline AIDS and Global Justice Now.
The group wants governments to take “urgent action” alongside the pharmaceutical industry to share technology and intellectual property through the World Health Organisation (WHO) to make sure enough vaccine doses are produced for a global rollout.
More than 10,000 people of Nigerian heritage work in the NHS, but Nigeria is one of 43 countries in Africa included in the list of low and lower-middle income countries that may be unable to access enough does of the vaccine in 2021.
Just 11 countries across the entire continent of Africa are expected to have adequate access to the jab next year.
Here is the full list of countries the PVA says will struggle to access enough vaccine for more than 10% of their population:
- Burkina Faso
- Cabo Verde
- Central African Republic
- Republic of Congo (Brazzaville)
- Cote d’Ivoire
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
- Kyrgyz Republic
- Lao PDR
- Occupied Palestinian Territories (the West Bank and Gaza)
- Papua New Guinea
- Sao Tome and Principe
- Sierra Leone
- Solomon Islands
- South Sudan
- Sri Lanka
- Timor Leste
Just five of the 67 countries – Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Pakistan and Ukraine – have reported over 1.5m cases between them.
Data collated by the PVA shows wealthy nations representing just 14% of the world’s population have bought up 53% of all the most promising vaccines so far.
This includes the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which the UK began rolling out via the NHS on Tuesday, as well as other leading candidates in late-stage trials including the Astra Zeneca/Oxford, Moderna, Novovax, Sanofi/GSK and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Russia’s vaccine Gamaleya/Sputnik and Sinovac, developed and trialled in China, are also included in the list of leading vaccines used by the PVA to determine availability.
Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s head of economic and social justice, said: “The hoarding of vaccines actively undermines global efforts to ensure that everyone, everywhere, can be protected from Covid-19.
“Rich countries have clear human rights obligations not only to refrain from actions that could harm access to vaccines elsewhere, but also to cooperate and provide assistance to countries that need it.
“By buying up the vast majority of the world’s vaccine supply, rich countries are in breach of their human rights obligations. Instead, by working with others to share knowledge and scale up supply, they could help bring an end to the global Covid-19 crisis.”
The PVA said that so far all of Moderna’s vaccine doses and 96% of Pfizer/BioNTech’s have been bought up by rich countries. They added that “in welcome contrast” Oxford/AstraZeneca had pledged to provide 64% of their doses to people in developing nations, but that supply would likely still only reach 18% of the world’s population next year at most.
Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy manager, said: “No one should be blocked from getting a life-saving vaccine because of the country they live in or the amount of money in their pocket.
“But unless something changes dramatically, billions of people around the world will not receive a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19 for years to come.”