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Equitable Access To Vaccines Could Have Prevented More Than Half Of Global Covid Deaths: Study

Scientists from the Northeastern University, US, have estimated 518,000 deaths could have been averted if the 20 countries in the study had received the vaccines

Equitable Access To Vaccines Could Have Prevented More Than Half Of Global Covid Deaths: Study
The study is published in the journal Nature Communications

New Delhi: A more equitable access to Covid vaccines could have prevented more than 50 per cent of COVID-19 deaths in 20 lower income countries, according to a new study. Scientists from the Northeastern University, US, have estimated 518,000 deaths could have been averted if the 20 countries in the study had received the vaccines at the same time as the US and other high income countries and in comparable quantities, using a computational epidemic model.

The countries included in the study were Angola, Kenya, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Uganda, Rwanda, Zambia, Egypt, Morocco, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Bolivia, El Salvador, Honduras, Philippines and Kyrgyzstan.

The study is published in the journal Nature Communications. The estimation that “thousands and thousands” of lives were lost to vaccine inequity was a “punch in the stomach,”. Alessandro Vespignani, director of Northeastern’s Network Science Institute and the study’s co-author said,

We need to have a different system in place so that we have more vaccines and a more equitable distribution across the world s. There is a high price for this inequity.

Also Read: People Lost Faith In Childhood Vaccines During COVID Pandemic: UNICEF 

Further, the scientists also looked at what would have happened had these nations received the vaccines earlier, but in no greater amount. The paper said,

For more than half of the countries, the percentage of deaths averted exceeds 70 per cent, with peaks above 90 per cent for Afghanistan and Uganda

In terms of numbers of deaths, it meant that an estimated 149,000 COVID-19 deaths could have been prevented in Indonesia and 1,700 in Rwanda with earlier and more vaccines, according to the researchers. They said,

In this case, even without increasing the number of doses, we estimate an important fraction of deaths (6 to 50 per cent) could have been averted

International health agencies and foundations anticipated the problem and tried to address it but failed to do so in time, Mr. Vespignani said.

After the COVID-19 vaccines were introduced in October of 2021, high income countries ended up with one or more doses of vaccine for every person, while low income countries had one to four doses of vaccine for every 100 individuals, according to Mr. Vespignani. The study said,

Despite international initiatives for equitable sharing agreements such as the COVID-19 Global Vaccine Access (COVAX) program, vaccine nationalism has largely superseded global equity efforts

Further Mr. Vespignani said,

Besides being ‘very costly in terms of life’, vaccine inequity encourages the circulation of pathogens in countries where a large percentage of people are not inoculated,

The solution wasn’t just to redistribute the vaccine supply from wealthy countries to poorer ones because Mr. Vespignani said,

You will have more deaths in the higher income countries. The issue is how to step up the system in order to have much more vaccine doses the next time a pandemic breaks out. Timing is important as well as the number of doses. We need to have both logistic and manufacturing capacity in place the next time so that we can really have a different outcome in those countries.

Also Read: India Achieved 99 Per Cent Coverage Of DPT3 Vaccine In 2021 Amid COVID Pandemic: WHO

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – theLGBTQ population,indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the currentCOVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water,SanitationandHygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fightmalnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health,adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues likeair pollution,waste management,plastic ban,manual scavengingand sanitation workers andmenstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India wheretoiletsare used andopen defecation free (ODF)status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched byPrime Minister Narendra Modiin 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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