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COVID-19 Vaccine: Bill Gates reveals what he wants for the poor globally

Microsoft Co-founder and Billionaire Philanthropist, Bill Gates, has lamented the low access to COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries, warning that if things do not improve, COVID-19 would be treated as a disease of the poor.

He said this in a press release on the 5th Goalkeepers Report of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation illustrating the pandemic’s adverse impact on progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

“The lack of equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines is a public health tragedy. We face the very real risk that in the future, wealthy countries and communities will begin treating COVID-19 as yet another disease of poverty. We can’t put the pandemic behind us until everyone, regardless of where they live, has access to vaccines,” he said.

He said more than 80 per cent of all COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in high- and upper-middle-income countries to date, with some securing two to three times the number needed so they can cover boosters.

“Less than one per cent of doses have been administered in low-income countries. Further, COVID-19 vaccine access has been strongly correlated with the locations where there is vaccine R&D and manufacturing capability. Though Africa is home to 17 per cent of the world’s population, for example, it has less than 1 per cent of the world’s vaccine manufacturing capabilities,” the report adds.

The Goalkeepers’ report states that there are huge disparities in COVID-19 impacts.

It adds that because of COVID-19, an additional 31 million people were pushed into extreme poverty in 2020 compared to 2019, adding that while 90 per cent of advanced economies will regain pre-pandemic per capita income levels by next year, only a third of low- and middle-income economies are expected to do so.

The foundation recalled that in last year’s Goalkeepers Report, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation predicted a drop of 14 percentage points in global vaccine coverage—effectively erasing 25 years of progress in 25 weeks. New analysis from IHME demonstrates that the decline, while still unacceptable, was only half of what was anticipated,” it adds

The report highlights the disproportionate economic impact that the pandemic has had on women globally. In high- and low-income countries alike, women have been harder hit than men by the global recession that was triggered by the pandemic.

“Women face structural barriers in every corner of the world, leaving them more vulnerable to the impacts of the pandemic. By investing in women now and addressing these inequities, governments can spur a more equitable recovery while strengthening their economies against future crises. It’s not just the right thing to do—but a smart policy that will benefit everyone,” said Melinda Gates.

The report also illustrates how the “miracle” of COVID-19 vaccines was the result of decades of investment, policies, and partnerships that established the infrastructure, talent, and ecosystems necessary to deploy them quickly.

It, however, adds that the systems that allowed for the unprecedented development and deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine exist primarily in wealthy countries, and as a result, the world has not benefited equally.

The foundation called for the world to invest in R&D, infrastructure, and innovation in places closer to the people who stand to benefit.

“We must invest in local partners to strengthen the capacity of researchers and manufacturers in lower-income countries to create the vaccines and medicines they need,” said Gates Foundation CEO, Mark Suzman.

The Punch

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