Alex Gutierrez Paez
Barcelona (Spain), July 16 (EFE).- Epidemiologist and director of the Global Alliance for Immunization (GAVI), Seth Berkley, warns that “there are still 16 countries in the world with less than 10% of the vaccinated population” and 14 of them are in “difficult” situations, such as armed conflicts.
In an interview with Efe, Berkley (United States, 1956) assures that “the situation has improved compared to January, when there were 34 countries with less than 10% of the population vaccinated”, and values which “shrinks to more than half of the countries with this low vaccination rate has not been easy, because it is difficult to operate in countries with such weak health systems”.
GAVI, created in 2000 by, among others, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, is a global public-private partnership organization to ensure and improve access to vaccination, especially for children in developing countries, against diseases potentially fatal infections.
At the start of the covid pandemic, the entity promoted a campaign to raise 10,000 million dollars – an amount they obtained after a few months – to reach, at least, 20% of the vaccinated population in all countries .
Berkley, who participated in an event in Barcelona (Spain), says that currently “47% of the population of the 92 poorest countries in the world have received an average of two doses of the covid-19 vaccine, while the global average is 61%.
Of the 92 countries, GAVI operates in 86 and since its creation has financed the vaccination of nearly 800 million children against deadly diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, yellow fever and, more recently, Covid.
This difference, according to the epidemiologist, shows that “the distribution is still not equitable, but measures are being taken so that the distance is less and less because, in addition, soon everyone will need more doses vaccine against covid”.
FOR A FAIR DISTRIBUTION
Another of the challenges that GAVI had to face was that “many pharmaceutical companies did not prioritize access to vaccines in developing countries, but their sales in developed countries”, denounces the director.
“When we saw that this mercantilist view prevailed, we chose to work with manufacturers to change the course of this dynamic and find a balance between selling patents and promoting fairness in distribution”, he adds.
At the same time, most developed countries had access to the various covid vaccines, with which they were able to immunize their population before poor countries.
“Sabíamos que los líderes políticos harían lo posible por defender primero a sus ciudadanos, pero en un a pandemia mundial sólo estamos seguros cuando todo el mundo está seguro”, advised Berkley, who criticized that “muchos países hayan priorizado el nacionalismo y se hayan olvidado del rest of the world”.
For now, the director recommends “minimizing the risks in each country as much as possible and vaccinating everyone with some fairness to avoid new strains that can prevent vaccines from being effective”.
The low vaccination rates are mainly concentrated in Africa, where “tests are rare, so the scope of covid has focused, above all, on autopsies of patients potentially carrying the virus”, specifies the epidemiologist.
The expert also points out that the severity of the disease in African countries is less than in developed countries because, for example, “if the average age in Japan is 80 years old, the average African population is around 18 years old, therefore the serious images will be minor”.
This does not mean, however, that we should forget these countries, which for the most part have much less opportunity to be vaccinated against covid, concludes Berkley. ECE
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