Urgent need for COVID-19 vaccine equity: UN-Oxford research

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The FINANCIAL —  COVID-19 vaccine programmes are expected to cost poorer countries an additional 56.6% on health budgets, compared with just 0.8% on wealthy countries’ health expenditure, according to new data from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the University of Oxford.

According to the research, inequity will have a ‘lasting and profound impact’ on socio-economic recovery in low and lower-middle income countries unless there is urgent action to make vaccines affordable and accessible to everyone.

With the current cost of vaccines calculated at an average US$15.80, and without immediate global financial support, low-income countries are forecast to see health costs soar by more than half, to vaccinate fully a target of 70% of their populations. But high-income countries would have to increase spending by just 0.8 percent to achieve the same results. This would account for half of low-income countries’ projected GDP growth in 2021, against 0.2% for high-income countries, University of Oxford notes.

These insights come from the Global Dashboard on Vaccine Equity , a joint initiative from UNDP, WHO and Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, which combines the latest COVID-19 vaccination information with the most recent socio-economic data. It illustrates why vaccine equity is not only critical to saving lives but also to driving a fairer and faster recovery from the pandemic.

According to Dashboard data on per capita GDP growth rates from the World Economic Outlook, richer countries are projected to vaccinate quicker and recover economically quicker from COVID-19, while poorer countries have not even been able to vaccinate their health workers and most at-risk population and may not achieve pre-COVID-19 levels of growth until 2024.

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Meanwhile, Delta and other variants are driving some countries to reinstate strict public health social measures. This is further worsening the social, economic and health impact, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalised people.

‘In some low- and middle-income countries, less than 1% of the population is vaccinated – this is contributing to a two-track recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,’ said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. ‘It’s time for swift, collective action – this new COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Dashboard will provide Governments, policymakers and international organisations with unique insights to accelerate the global delivery of vaccines and mitigate the devastating socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.’

 

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