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2.8 Billion People Still Waiting to Get Their First COVID- 19 Jab- UNDP

In September 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) set an ambitious global target when the UN health agency called for 70 per cent of the global population to be vaccinated by mid-2022. At that point, just over three per cent of people in low-income countries had been vaccinated with at least one dose, compared to 60.18 per cent in high-income countries.
Only a tiny proportion of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in developing countries, leading to a widening gap between rich and poor, says the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in a new study.

In September 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) set an ambitious global target when the UN health agency called for 70 per cent of the global population to be vaccinated by mid-2022. At that point, just over three per cent of people in low-income countries had been vaccinated with at least one dose, compared to 60.18 per cent in high-income countries.

Six months on, the world is nowhere near that target. The overall number of vaccines administered has risen dramatically, and in fact, according to Dr Seth Berkley the GAVI Executive Director, there’s currently more supply than demand but, UN reports that the inequality of the distribution has also widened.

Of the 10.7 billion doses given out worldwide, only one per cent have been administered in low-income countries. This means that 2.8 billion people around the world are still waiting to get their first shot. 

New analysis by UNDP shows that most of the vulnerable countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, where less than one per cent of the populations are fully vaccinated include Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Chad. Outside of Africa, Haiti and Yemen are still to reach two per cent coverage. 

Experts at the UN warned in a statement released on Monday that vaccine inequity jeopardizes the safety of everyone, and is largely responsible for growing inequalities between – and within – countries. Not only does this state of affairs risk prolonging the pandemic, but the lack of equity has many other impacts, slowing the economic recovery of entire countries, global labour markets, public debt payments, and countries’ ability to invest in other priorities.  

The studies also show that if low-income countries had the same vaccination rate as high-income countries in September last year (around 54 per cent) they would have increased their GDP by USS16.27 billion in 2021.  The countries calculated to have lost most potential income during the pandemic, due to vaccine inequity, are Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda. 

This lost income could have been used to address other pressing development challenges in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that make up the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the organization’s blueprint for a future that is fair for people and the planet.  

In South Sudan, for example, the costs associated with COVID-19 vaccinations could have covered all social assistance programmes and education expenditure in the country, whilst in Burundi, the costs could have provided healthcare for some 4.7 million people.  

Whilst the protracted lockdowns put in place worldwide hurt workers everywhere, those in developing countries were, again, disproportionately affected. Richer countries softened the blow by boosting economic support to both formal and informal workers, while in low-income countries, support declined between 2020 and 2021.  

When it comes to recovery from the early effects of the pandemic, the statement shows poorer countries are finding it harder than ever to recover economically, labour markets are suffering, public debt remains stubbornly high, and there is little left in the coffers to invest in other priorities.  

   

Greater cooperation between countries is needed to stop the pandemic fast, whilst delayed vaccination could lead to escalated societal tensions and violence, the report adds.

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