NEW DELHI: Low-income countries would add $38 billion to their estimated GDP for 2021 if the vaccination rate is same as high-income countries, as per data released on Thursday jointly by the United Nations Development Programme, the World Health Organization and the University of Oxford.
The Global Dashboard for Vaccine Equity, a joint initiative from UNDP, WHO and the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, combined information on covid-19 vaccination with the most recent socio-economic data to illustrate why accelerating vaccine equity is critical for faster and fairer recovery from the pandemic.
There will be a lasting and profound impact on the socio-economic recovery in low- and lower-middle-income countries without urgent actions to boost supply and assure equitable vaccine access for every country, the report said.
Vaccine doses should be shared quickly, there should be no manufacturing barriers, and financing support should be secured to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, which will bring global economic recovery.
A high price per covid-19 vaccine dose relative to other vaccines and delivery costs is likely to put a strain on fragile health systems, undermining routine immunization and essential health services, causing alarming spikes in measles, pneumonia, and diarrhoea.
There is also a clear risk in terms of foregone opportunities for the expansion of other immunization services, for example, safe and effective rollout of HPV vaccines. Lower-income countries need timely access to sustainably priced vaccines and financial support, it said.
“In some low- and middle-income countries, less than 1% of the population is vaccinated – this is contributing to a two-track recovery from the covid-19 pandemic,” said UNDP administrator, Achim Steiner.
“It’s time for swift, collective action – this new covid-19 Vaccine Equity Dashboard will provide governments, policymakers and international organisations unique insights to accelerate the global delivery of vaccines and mitigate the devastating socio-economic impacts of the pandemic,” Steiner added.
According to the Dashboard, richer countries are projected to vaccinate and recover quicker, while poorer countries haven’t even been able to vaccinate their health workers and most at-risk population and may not achieve pre-covid-19 levels of growth until 2024.
Meanwhile, Delta and other variants are driving some countries to reinstate strict public health social measures. This is further worsening the social, economic and health impact, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalised people. Vaccine inequity threatens all countries and can reverse hard-won progress on sustainable development goals.
“Vaccine inequity is the world’s biggest obstacle to ending this pandemic and recovering from covid-19,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization. “Economically, epidemiologically and morally, it is in all countries’ best interest to use the latest available data to make lifesaving vaccines available to all.”
Designed to empower policymakers and development partners to take urgent action to reduce vaccine inequity, the Global Dashboard breaks down the impact of accessibility against a target for countries to vaccinate their at-risk populations first to reduce mortality, protect the health system and then vaccinate larger population.
The Dashboard is facilitated by the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All (SDG3 GAP), which aims to improve collaboration across the multilateral system to support an equitable and resilient recovery from the pandemic and drive progress towards the health-related SDGs.
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