The world is on the verge of a remarkable scientific achievement: a new vaccine that is safe and effective is likely to be ready early next year. This progress will provide the world with an opportunity to eliminate the threat of a new crown outbreak and gradually return to normalcy. We can immunized against the new crown, quarantine measures will be lifted, people will no longer have to wear masks, and the world economy will be running at full speed again.
But the outbreak will not end on its own, and to achieve this, the world needs to do three things first: the mass production capacity of billions of doses of vaccines, adequate funding to pay for vaccines, and a well-functioning vaccine delivery system.
Vaccine production capacity.
The world’s supply of new crown vaccines is now available to rich countries, which have been negotiating with pharmaceutical companies to ensure that billions of doses are given priority once they are produced.
But what about those low- and middle-income countries? From South Sudan to Nicaragua to Myanmar, these countries are home to nearly half of the world’s population, but they do not have the purchasing power to make big deals with pharmaceutical companies. In the current reality, these countries can obtain doses that can cover up to 14 per cent of their population.
The gap between rich and poor of the new crown vaccine, rich countries pre-ordered far more new crown vaccine than needed, poor countries were left far behind / Financial Times, CNN, BBC and so on.
A new data model developed by Northeastern University helps illustrate the consequences if vaccines are not distributed fairly.
Researchers at the university analyzed two scenarios: one is the distribution of vaccines to all countries according to the proportion of the population, and the other is similar to the reality we face, where about 50 rich countries and regions received the first 2 billion doses of the vaccine. In the second case, the new coronavirus will continue to spread uncontrolled for four months in three quarters of the world. Compared with the first case, the resulting death toll would be twice that of the former.
Vaccine equal distribution compared to the absence of vaccine mortality / Northeastern University MOBS laboratory.
It would be a huge moral absence. Vaccines can make the new crown a preventable disease, and no one should die from a preventable disease simply because their country cannot afford to manufacture and trade.
But even if you don’t care about fairness, you can foresee the consequences of the first scenario, “rich countries first”. In this case, we will be the second Australia or New Zealand: these two countries have made long-term efforts, there have been very few cases in the country, but their economies continue to be depressed because their trading partners are still under blockade. Occasionally, carriers of the virus continue to cross the South Pacific, causing local infections and community transmission, and schools and offices have to be closed again.
Even if there is an oversupply of vaccines, rich countries are still at risk of re-infection and epidemics, where not everyone chooses to be vaccinated. The only way to eradicate the threat of disease is to eliminate it everywhere.
The best way to close the vaccine gap is not to blame rich countries, because what they are doing is perfectly understandable – for the purpose of protecting their own nationals. A better approach would be to work to increase vaccine production capacity around the world. Only in this way can we take care of everyone, no matter where they live. At this level, significant progress has been made in the spread of new crown drugs. Pharmaceutical companies have agreed to maximize capacity by using each other’s factories. Remdesivir, for example, was developed by Gilead, but now Pfizer’s plants will produce more Redseavirs, and no company has allowed its own plants to be used by competitors in this way before. Now, we’re seeing a similar collaboration on vaccines. This morning (29 September), 16 pharmaceutical companies and our foundations signed an important agreement to cooperate in vaccine production and to scale up production at an unprecedented rate to ensure that approved vaccines are widely distributed as soon as possible.
Funding for vaccines.
In addition to considering vaccine production capacity, we need to raise money to pay for billions of doses of vaccines for poor countries, which is where the “Global Partnership accelerates the development, production, and equitable access to new tools for the prevention and control of new coronary pneumonia” (ACT-A) action plans. The initiative is advocated and supported by organizations such as the Global Alliance for Vaccine Immunization (Gavi) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (the Global Fund). Few people may have heard of these two international multilateral organizations, but they have worked deep in the field of global health for two decades and have become experts and major contributors to the provision of vaccines, diagnostic tools and medicines to poor countries.
The efforts of pharmaceutical companies have made the problem of widespread global funding shortages much easier. Pharmaceutical companies have given up profiting from any new coronavirus vaccine and have pledged to make it as affordable as possible, but still need substantial public funding if they are to get the vaccine on everyone in need.
Vaccine delivery system.
Finally, even if the world already has enough vaccine production capacity and funding, we need to strengthen health systems — health workers and related infrastructure that can really deliver vaccines to people in need around the world. We can learn a lot from the ongoing polio eradication efforts.
I was once impressed by a photograph of a group of health workers who had to walk through waist-deep floodwaters in order to reach remote villages to get vaccinated.
Finding new cases of coronary pneumonia in the world’s poorest areas will require a similar network of primary health workers – covering places that are not even accessed by road. With good diagnostic tools, these health workers can also alert them in a timely manner. In other words, in the process of eliminating the new crown, we can also build a system that will help reduce the risk of the next pandemic.
In studying the history of pandemics, I’ve learned one thing: Pandemics are rare and can make people self-interest or al-alism – two instincts that go together. This is what ensures equal access to new crown vaccines in poor countries – al-Elyse is self-interest.
The original text of this article, “A three-part plan to eliminate COVID-19, by Bill Gates, was published on September 29, 2020 at the Gates Foundation.