The pandemic has claimed over 4.7 million lives so far and COVID-19 has already become the deadliest pandemic ever in the US. Coronavirus has claimed more lives in the US than the 1918 pandemic referred to as the ‘Spanish flu’. And yet vaccine hesitancy and vaccine nationalism refuses to die down (“EU to donate 200m more Covid vaccine doses, Sept.15, Gulf Today).
The 1918 pandemic claimed more than 675,000, but the US which is the worst-affected country presently, has already lost over 678,000 lives. The World Health Organisation estimates that the pandemic’s overall toll could be two to three times higher than official records, due to the excess mortality that is directly and indirectly linked to COVID-19.
The rise is attributed to many factors. The anti-vax movement is responsible for fuelling a fear for inoculation, but richer countries that are in possession of large amount of vaccine doses are equally guilty of adding to the problem. Hoarding of vaccines is criminal as it will result in thousands of needless deaths in the world’s poorest countries. Months after the virus took the world by storm we heard world leaders talk of ‘we are all in this together’ urging us to shoulder the responsibility of being responsible citizens — maintain social distancing, wear masks, sanitize our hands, so on and so forth. Most of us agreed while we waited with baited breath for the vaccine.
And now we have a couple of them in use globally and more than 60 more in clinical development. And since ‘we are all in this together’ it was logical to believe that major producers of the vaccine like the US, Britain, the EU and India would keep the supply line running to countries across the globe. But that does not seem to be case. The EU gesture of donating 200m doses is appreciated, but we need more countries to come on board.
Vaccine nationalism will greatly harm the global battle against COVID-19.