LET'S GET VACCINATED

AWITI: We must avoid pandemic of the unvaccinated

Global surge in Covid infection, deaths concentred in regions where vaccination rates are low.

In Summary
  • The recent global surge in Covid-19 infections and deaths is concentred in regions and sub-national locales where vaccination rates are the lowest
  • Health experts are now persuaded that we are in the epoch of a pandemic of the unvaccinated
Teacher Rosemary Waithera gets the Covid-19 jab at Dandora 1 Health Centre, Nairobi.
LOW VACCINATION: Teacher Rosemary Waithera gets the Covid-19 jab at Dandora 1 Health Centre, Nairobi.
Image: UNICEF

A global pandemic continues to ravage human health and the global economy. Nearly 208 million people have been infected globally and more than 4.4 million are dead from Covid-19 according to official records.

It is estimated that less than 24 per cent of the world population is fully vaccinated but only 1.2 per cent of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.

At just 36.7 million daily vaccination, rates are far from encouraging. Moreover, vaccination rates vary from about 70 per cent in Singapore to just 0.18 per cent in Tanzania. The disparity in vaccination rates is staggering, even immoral.

Last week in this column I noted that rich countries selfishly secured excess vaccines and vaccine candidates. Canada ordered doses that could vaccinate every Canadian five times over with a double dose.

Similarly, the US has secured nearly four doses for every American. So clearly, we don’t have enough vaccines available for low-income countries whose health systems also happen to be at best deplorable.

Inadequate supply is not the only reason low-income countries have not been able to administer even the few doses they have, which could save the lives of the most vulnerable. Distribution is turning out to be an even bigger challenge for low-income countries.

breakthrough infections have been recorded in about one per cent of fully vaccinated individuals. This is staggering evidence that vaccines are effective against Covid-19.

Hundreds of thousands of vaccine doses have been destroyed by some African countries because the authorities are unable to get them into the arms of their populations before they expire.

South Sudan destroyed 59,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Malawi destroyed 20,000 does. Similarly, DR Congo could not use most of the 1.7 million doses of AstraZeneca distributed under the Covax programme. The vaccines were later redistributed to Ghana, Togo, Senegal and the Central African Republic.

While inequity in access and distribution and administration of vaccines is immoral, to say the least, there is a widening chasm at the national level.

In most cases early vaccine uptake has been among the elite. A disconcerting number of a small elite – politicians and their acolytes, well-connected individuals in business and professional cadres.

Unchecked, this trend will exacerbate social, economic and health inequalities in low-income countries.

The recent global surge in Covid-19 infections and deaths is concentred in regions and sub-national locales where vaccination rates are the lowest.

Health experts are now persuaded that we are in the epoch of a pandemic of the unvaccinated. There is no doubt that we are in the regime of a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

Available US government data shows that 99 per cent of recent Covid-19 deaths were among the unvaccinated and unvaccinated people accounted for 97 per cent of hospitalisations.

Moreover, breakthrough infections have been recorded in about one per cent of fully vaccinated individuals. This is staggering evidence that vaccines are effective against Covid-19.

Doctors are often careful about what they recommend for pregnant women. Hence, the initial caution on the Covid-19 jab. Data now suggests that the benefits of receiving a Covid-19 vaccine outweigh any known or potential risks of vaccination during pregnancy.

Let’s get the world vaccinated!

Views expressed are the writer’s