While countries such as the United Kingdom, China, Russia, Canada or the United States have already begun to vaccinate their population against covid-19, and others, such as Spain, France or Germany are waiting for the approval of the vaccine to start their vaccination programs, a report published today in « BMJ»Warns of a reality that cannot go unnoticed: almost a quarter of the world’s population may not have access to a covid-19 vaccine until at least 2022.
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health (USA) reviewed the pre-orders for covid-19 vaccines before their regulatory approval that had been made publicly by each country.
Thus they saw that, as of November 15, a minority of countries had reserved 7.48 billion doses from 13 manufacturers of 48 candidates for covid-19 vaccines that were in clinical trials.
But, the researchers warn, more than half (51%) of these doses will go to high-income countries, which account for just 14% of the world’s population.
For example, they write, the US has reserved 800 million doses, but accounts for a fifth of all covid-19 cases globally (11.02 million cases), while Japan, Australia and Canada have reserved. altogether more than one billion doses, but they do not represent even 1% of current covid-19 cases globally (0.45 million cases).
The case of Canada is striking because it has bought 358 million doses for a population that is close to 38 million inhabitants. That is, they will have 9.5 doses for each inhabitant.
An analysis by Duke University released this week indicates that of the 6.8 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines produced, 3.7 billion have been purchased by wealthy countries. Of that figure, the EU has asked for 1,425 million.
And the rest would be for low- and middle-income countries, where more than 85% of the world’s population resides.
The report of the «BMJ» explains that, if all these candidates turn out to be viable and successful, then total manufacturing capacity would be 5.96 billion cycles by the end of 2021, with prices starting at 4.90 € ($ 6) per treatment up to almost $ 74.
Up to 40% of vaccine courses from these vaccine manufacturers could potentially remain for low- and middle-income countries. However, this will depend, in part, on how high-income countries share what they buy and whether the US and Russia participate in coordinated efforts globally.
But the authors say that even if all of these vaccine manufacturers managed to reach their maximum production capacity, at least a fifth of the world’s population would not have access to vaccines until 2022.
«This study provides an overview of how high-income countries have secured future supplies of covid-19 vaccines, but have not considered access for the rest of the world.»They write.
The Gavi Alliance for Vaccines (Gavi), the Coalition for the Promotion of Innovations for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) and the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the COVAX Initiative: Collaboration for Global Equitable Access to COVID-19 Vaccines, which aims to accelerate the development and manufacture of covid-19 vaccines and ensure fair and equitable access to them for all countries of the world.
However, as this work concludes, it is necessary for both governments and manufacturers to guarantee an equitable allocation of covid-19 vaccines through greater transparency and accountability over these agreements.
The production of vaccines would serve as a vaccine to all the people who want it, if the distribution were more equitable. In the world, the study notes, there are 3.7 billion adults willing to receive a covid-19 vaccine. This figure underscores the importance of designing fair and equitable strategies to ensure that supply can meet demand, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
Taken together, these findings suggest that the operational challenges of the global covid-19 vaccination program will be at least as difficult as the scientific challenges associated with its development.
In the other work also published in “BMJ”, researchers based in China and the USA calculated the target populations for which vaccines would be required, in order to guide the design of fair and equitable allocation strategies. all over the world.
They found that the size of the target population for COVID-19 vaccination varies depending on geographic region or vaccine goals (such as maintaining essential basic services, reducing severe COVID-19, and stopping virus transmission).
The findings illustrate the considerable complexity of manufacturing, purchasing, distributing, and administering covid-19 vaccines in a way that meets global needs and is equitable across nations and populations.
In a linked editorial, Jason Schwartz of the Yale School of Public Health, notes that many countries have already demonstrated a commitment to equitable global access to covid-19 vaccines by purchasing through the COVAX Facility, an initiative that invests part of the payment in vaccines for poorer countries.
Schwartz argues that the successful and equitable implementation of vaccination programs against covid-19 «rrequires unprecedented global coordination and sustained commitment of resources – financial, logistical and technical – from high-income countries».
In particular, he believes that US participation in vaccination efforts “will be invaluable in ensuring that all populations globally have access to the covid-19 vaccines that will help end this devastating global health crisis.” .