Lessons From EU’s efforts to end Vaccination gap

Synopsis:   EU is helping other low-income countries to get access to vaccines. The same needs to be done by other countries to close the vaccination gap.

Background

  • A widely vaccinated world population is the only way to end the pandemic. Otherwise, the Covid virus will undergo multiple mutations, and it will undermine the effectiveness of existing vaccines.
  • Vaccination is also a prerequisite for lifting the restrictions that are depriving our economies and freedoms.
  • Given the importance of vaccination for all, it is worrisome to know that, Vaccination apartheid exists.
  • Till now, only 2.1% of Africans had received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • If the vaccination gap persists, it is likely to reverse the trend in recent decades of declining poverty and global inequalities.
  • In this context, the EU’s lead role in helping low-income and middle-income countries to get vaccinated is a shining example of global solidarity.
  • Other developing countries should follow the EU’s path to ending the Pandemic globally.

What are the efforts made by the EU to supply vaccines to low-income countries?

  1. First, at an ideological level, the EU has rejected the idea of ‘Vaccine nationalism’. The EU has been vaccinating its own population while exporting large volumes of vaccines and contributing substantially to the roll-out of the vaccine in low-income countries.
  2. Second, contribution through Research and development. EU’s new generation of mRNA vaccines contributed significantly to the large-scale production of Vaccines. Till now, The EU has exported 240 million doses to 90 countries.
  3. Third, support through multilateral institutions. For instance, The EU has been the main contributor to the COVAX facility. It enables poorer countries to access vaccines. Also, around one-third of all COVAX doses delivered so far has been financed by the EU.
  4. Fourth, through aid and Commercial channel. For instance, European industrial partners have committed to deliver 1.3 billion doses of vaccines before the end of 2021 to low-income countries at no-profit, and to middle-income countries at lower prices.
  5. Fifth, funding to African nations to boost manufacturing capacity in Africa for vaccines. For instance, Team Europe had allocated €1 billion funding from the EU budget and European development financial institutions. It aims to boost manufacturing capacity in Africa by working along with African partners.

Way forward

  • All countries must avoid restrictive measures that affect vaccine supply chains. For example, Vaccine Nationalism, restriction in sharing key ingredients required to manufacture vaccines, etc.,
  • Further, countries need to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and technology to boost vaccine production through a Voluntary licensing mechanism.
  • Also, the mechanism of compulsory licensing guaranteed under the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement and the 2001 Doha Declaration can be enforced.

Health is a global public good. To close the vaccination gap, global health cooperation is needed as foreseen by the Rome Declaration recently adopted at the Global Health Summit.

 

Source: The Hindu

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