Undoubtedly, the Covid-19 pandemic has shaken the entire world killing nearly 4 million people and infecting about 130 million across the globe. This pandemic turning into catastrophe has portrayed the vulnerability of most countries irrespective of their economic power and political leadership coupled with healthcare capability. However, after the development of vaccines and the starting of mass inoculation by various countries, it is now coming under control gradually, showing a silver lining of human vibrancy in the near future. But, ironically the affordability in availing the Covid-19 vaccine has created more division and discrimination among rich and poor countries in the heavily polarised world.
The poor countries are suffering to manage vaccines owing to the shortage of production as well as vaccine monopoly and aggressive nationalism of rich countries. A report reveals that some affluent countries have secured over half of the produced vaccines and they have also ordered more for stockpiling despite possession of 3-9 fold more than their actual needs. In advance, Japan has ordered four times more than their total people while the United States has booked two times more than its population.
The wealthiest countries comprising only 14 percent of the global population have managed 4.2 billion doses of vaccines whereas the developing and least developing countries (LDCs) holding 86 percent of global population have been able to collect only 670 millions of jabs. If the present trend goes on, then more than 85 poor countries will have to wait until the end of 2023 for significant access to vaccines. This reminds the geopolitical dominance and untold vaccine apartheid policy of few rich but greedy countries downtrodding the the chance of accessing vaccines for poor countries.
The Coronavirus Resource Centre of Johns Hopkins University on July 2 recorded around 130 million global Covid cases along with about 4 million deaths. Both in case of infection and death, the U.S., India and Brazil are topping in the world. Johns Hopkins reveals more than 3 billion vaccines have been inoculated across the world. Roughly 40 million doses of vaccines are now being inoculated in a day across 200 countries. Researchers within and outside of the WHO estimated 11 billion doses of vaccines required for a 5.5 billion targeted population focusing on a pandemic free safer world.
Countries in Africa, Asia especially South Asia and Latin America are struggling to collect vaccines. Despite the ongoing hurdle, the good news is rich countries have started donating jabs as a part of their humanitarian commitment and also to show off the soft power of diplomacy targeting geopolitical supremacy.
Bangladesh is also lagging behind in managing and injecting Covid-19 vaccines. So far, the country has managed nearly 15 millions of jabs as a part of business deals with India and China as well as gift items from India, China and the USA. As of June 30, less than 4 percent of the population are vaccinated in Bangladesh and the deal to procure 100 million more jabs by December 2021 is on card. As a continent Africa is in the most backward situation regarding vaccination as it has only administered less than 2 percent of vaccines.
The globalised world is highly polarised with focus on money matters, power dynamics involving soft power, hard power and smart power, changing trends of geopolitics after the split of the Soviet Union. Today, the European Union (EU) is more divided than united, deviating from its motto of foundation. Now, after cost-benefit analyses, China and the USA as two key leaders are trying to play with the lives of more than 7 billion people. In fact, the polarised world is getting paralised bit by bit with no sign of respite in future.
Even the corona pandemic has failed to unify the countries to come together against the common devil. The world should come forward forgetting their division and work together to fight the Coronavirus through exchange of vaccines, know-how and technology so that the sense of equality and justice prevails over injustice.
As the right to health is a basic human rights for all, so is the right to vaccination. The universalisation of justice as to global vaccination is only attainable if the West and the East knot a tie, imbibing the spirit of equity, solidarity and unity echoing the doctrine live and let live. Hope in most occasions prevails over despair. Similarly, the silence of the world will end paving the way for the hustle and bustle again.
Recently, about 150 faith leaders under the banner of the People's Vaccine Alliance underscored the need for elimination of vaccine nationalism and controlling greed of rich countries towards poor ones. The leaders say access to vaccines should not depend on people's wealth, status and nationality urging to render the sense of brotherhood and sisterhood to ease the persisting Covid-19 crisis. The enhancement of the present 0.7 percent international aid budget allocated by rich countries and their supported organisations towards poor countries and also the cancellation of debts for poor countries can be a way-out to get rid of the incapability in accessing Covid-19 vaccines. Vaccine companies mostly in the USA, China, UK, Russia and India are making billions of dollars as profit but the people in third world countries are destined to suffer and dream of chasing for survival.
To save humanity from the global pandemic, shrinking of discrimination fostering cooperation and shunning individualism are now the demands of time. All international set-ups like the United Nations (UN), the World Health Organization (WHO) and alliance of rich and developing countries must ink a global deal with vaccine manufacturing companies to end the woe of 7 billion people to make the world livable with peace, prosperity, security and justice.
Writer: Emdadul Haque is Dhaka based Independent Human Rights Researcher and Freelance Contributor.
Email: [email protected] and Twitter: @emdadlaw
BDST: 1235 HRS, JUL 5, 2021