The epidemiologist and director of the Global Alliance for Immunization (GAVI), Seth Berkeleywarns that “there is still 16 countries in the world with less than 10% of the population vaccinated” and that, among them, 14 are in “difficult” situations, such as wars.
berkley (United States, 1956) assures that “the situation has improved compared to January, when they were 34 countries with less than 10% of the population vaccinated”, and values that “reducing by more than half the countries with this low vaccination rate has not been easy because it is difficult to operate in countries with health systems as weak”.
The association GAVIcreated in 2000 by, among others, the founder of Microsoft, Bill Gatesis a global public-private collaborative organization whose goal is to ensure and improve access to immunization, especially for children in developing countries, against preventable diseases that threaten their lives.
At the start of the pandemic covid, 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.
berkleywho took part a few days ago in Barcelona in the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the international cooperation program of the La Caixa Foundationindicates that at present, “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 is active in 86 of them and, since its creation, has financed the vaccination of nearly 800 million children against deadly diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, hepatitis B, fever yellow and, more recently, covid, among others.
This difference, according to epidemiologistshows that “the distribution is still not fair, but measures are being taken to make the distance smaller and smaller because, in addition, soon everyone will need more doses of the covid vaccine”.
Another challenge met GAVI was that “many pharmaceutical companies did not give priority to access to vaccines in developing countries, but to their sales in developed countries”, denounces the director of the institution, who received the Princess of Asturias Prize for international cooperation in 2020.
“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 vaccines of the covidwith which they were able to immunize their population before the poor countries.
“We knew political leaders would do their best to defend their citizens first, but in a global pandemic, we are only safe when everyone is safe,” he warns. berkleywho criticizes that “many countries have prioritized nationalism and forgotten about the rest of the world”.
For now, the director of GAVI She recommends to “minimize the risks in each country as much as possible and to vaccinate the whole world with a certain equity to avoid new strains which can prevent vaccines from being effective”.
Low vaccination rates are mostly concentrated in Africa, where “testing is scarce, so the extent of the covid focused, above all, on autopsies of patients potentially carrying the virus,” explains the epidemiologist, He earned a medical degree from Harvard University.
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 possibility of being vaccinated against covid, he concludes. berkley.