Overcoming Covid-19 on a Global Scale
The United States and other wealthy countries are in the midst of vaccine rollout to create herd immunity for Covid-19 and it can’t come soon enough. The toll on health systems, the economy, education and violence in the home are extreme and most are looking forward to being able to resume normal life again and reduce the strain on these systems.
However, that toll on systems isn’t just in wealthy countries- many countries in the Global South have experienced just as much strain and often even more significant strain. As one example, our partner in Kenya just wrote a blog about the increase in FGM (female genital mutilation) during this time because there is less authority oversight in communities who desire to push forward this terrible practice.
Many have been speaking out about unfair vaccine distribution among less wealthy nations, including most recently actress Selena Gomez who called out leaders of G7 nations to pledge financial support and activist Greta Thunberg, whose foundation pledged to donate 100,000 euros to COVAX vaccine distribution. In her announcement Greta tweeted the statistic recently given by WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus: “About 1 in 4 people in high-income countries have received a COVID-19 vaccine, compared with just 1 in more than 500 in low-income countries.”
On April 20th the US Department of State announced that they will be issuing travel advisories for approximately 80% of the world due to the risk of contracting Covid-19. This is an unfair advantage of the United States, which has recorded more positive Covid-19 cases than anywhere else in the world but can afford to vaccinate their citizens at a much higher rate than almost any other place in the world. It is evidence of the extreme privilege of this country to ensure enough vaccines for its own citizens and then turn around and warn its citizens not to travel to other locations who have not yet had the privilege or resources to vaccinate at the same rate.
COVAX is a group of countries, leaders, scientists, manufacturers, and organizations who’ve committed to providing vaccines for 20% of the population of all lower-income countries. Many of these lower income countries cannot afford the Covid-19 vaccine without the assistance of COVAX and herd immunity to the novel coronavirus cannot be achieved until it is contained throughout the world. COVAX believes that we will only be safe when everyone in the world is safe and they’ve taken on this task- “the largest and most rapid global vaccine rollout in history” according to Dr. Seth Berkley.
According to The World Health Organization (WHO) which is a big actor in COVAX, 42 days after the first distribution in Ghana, COVAX has distributed to 100 economies around the world. They’ve distributed 38 million doses in those locations, a remarkable feat. According to their latest forecast, COVAX hopes to distribute at least 2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines in 2021.
How Girls Are Impacted
Even as girls like Greta Thurnberg, who recently turned 18 years old, are speaking up about the unfair distribution of vaccines that is currently taking place, no children under the age of 18 are currently approved for the vaccine. On April 18th, Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted that children of any age will be able to get a vaccine by the first quarter of 2022, but there’s no way to predict when children around the world in lower income countries will have access to the vaccine. Since COVAX’s commitment is 20% of lower income country’s populations, it will most likely not extend to children.