COVID-19 Vaccine Inequity Undermines Global Economic Recovery 
COVAX / vaccine equity
COVAX vaccine deliveries in Africa.

Without urgent action to boost supply and ensure equitable access to vaccines across every country, COVID-19 vaccine inequity will profoundly impact and impede socio-economic recovery in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).

This is according to the Global Dashboard for COVID-19 Vaccine Equity, a joint initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government.

A high price per COVID-19 vaccine dose, in addition to other vaccine and delivery costs, has the potential to place a strain on fragile health systems, undermining routine immunization and other essential health services. 

Alternative, accelerated scaled-up manufacturing and vaccine sharing with LMICs could have added $38 billion to the countries’ GDPs, if these countries had similar vaccination rates as high income countries. 

Vaccine inequity is the world’s biggest obstacle to ending this pandemic and recovering from COVID-19,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Economically, epidemiologically and morally, it is in all countries’ best interest to use the latest available data to make lifesaving vaccines available to all.”

According to the new dashboard, richer countries are projected to vaccinate quicker and recover economically quicker from COVID-19, while poorer countries haven’t been able to vaccinate even their health workers and most vulnerable populations. 

Some low- and middle-income countries have less than 1% of their population vaccinated, said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. These countries may not achieve pre-COVID-19 levels of growth until 2024. 

In addition, Delta and other variants are forcing some countries to reinstate strict public health social measures, further worsening social, economic, and health impact.

Steiner called for ‘swift, collective action’ on behalf of governments and policymakers to promote vaccine equity worldwide. 

“It’s time for swift, collective action – this new COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Dashboard will provide Governments, policymakers and international organizations with unique insights to accelerate the global delivery of vaccines and mitigate the devastating socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.”

The Dashboard is facilitated by the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All, which aims to improve collaboration across the countries and organizations, in support of an equitable and resilient recovery from the pandemic. 

Image Credits: UNICEF.

Combat the infodemic in health information and support health policy reporting from the global South. Our growing network of journalists in Africa, Asia, Geneva and New York connect the dots between regional realities and the big global debates, with evidence-based, open access news and analysis. To make a personal or organisational contribution click here on PayPal.