The Institute for Government and Wellcome Trust report says that attempts to globally end the pandemic have been “weak and fragmented” – with the Global North leaving the Global South to face an increasingly devastating pandemic
Right now, richer countries in the world are reaching points of general population immunity. The UK is well beyond 60% vaccinated, with access to three leading vaccines – Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca. But as the country acclimatises to the “new normal”, other countries continue to undergo waves of COVID hospitalisation and death.
Will the pandemic end if it continues in some parts of the world?
This report, authored by Tom Sasse at the Institute for Government (IfG), is supported by insight from a roundtable of scientists and healthcare experts from the Wellcome Trust. He examines the difference between Global North and Global South countries, and asks the question that haunts most policy-makers – is the pandemic going to truly end?
The answer appears to be a resolute no, unless more vaccinations are delivered to countries which are hardly 1% single-dosed.
He writes: “Many low-and middle-income countries are facing the deadliest stage of the pandemic to date. The speed at which the virus is evolving and spreading – and the ease with which new variants move across borders between highly connected countries – should tell us that, as much as they might like to, no country or group of countries will exit the Covid-19 crisis alone.”
“no country or group of countries will exit the Covid-19 crisis alone.”
The G7 meeting in the UK did little to resolve issues in the Global South, including vaccine accessibility. The seven countries agreed to fund $7 billion in vaccines, which are far less than what is needed by countries in the Global South.
Intellectual property limitations?
Additionally, some countries in the Global North continue to support an intellectual property law that restricts Global South countries from manufacturing a generic form of COVID vaccine themselves. This limitation remains as a key issue, as countries like Bangladesh have factories capable of producing vaccines – but will be subject to immense legal retaliation if they do so. The WTO continue to meet and debate the possibility of a waiver on this law, but it appears to be a continued stalemate as South Africa and India push for support.
According to the IfG, the G20 meeting in October, 2021 needs to be a turning point in global strategy.
Sasse further says: “The next few months will be crucial. The world needs to take urgent action to avoid repeated India-style outbreaks.”