Vaccine inequality is costing tens of billions in lost output
“At a time when richer countries have paid trillions in stimulus to prop up flagging economies, now is the moment to ensure vaccine doses are shared quickly, all barriers to increasing vaccine manufacturing are removed and financing support is secured so vaccines are distributed equitably and a truly global economic recovery can take place,” they said in a statement.
If vaccine manufacturing had been increased, enough doses were shared with poorer countries and they had similar vaccination rates to high-income countries, $38 billion could have been added to those nations’ 2021 GDP forecasts, according to the data, which was compiled under the “Global Dashboard for Covid-19 Vaccine Equity.”
The statement said a high price for vaccines “could put a huge strain on fragile health systems,” affect routine immunizations and essential health services, and cause spikes in diseases like measles, pneumonia and diarrhea.
The Dashboard, which uses data from multiple organizations including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the vaccine alliance Gavi, shows richer countries are projected to vaccinate quicker and recover economically faster.
Meanwhile, poorer countries, some of which haven’t even been able to vaccinate their health workers and most at-risk populations, “may not achieve pre-Covid-19 levels of growth until 2024.”
“This is worsening the social, economic and health impact, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalized people,” the statement from the UNDP, WHO and University of Oxford said.
“Vaccine inequity is the world’s biggest obstacle to ending this pandemic and recovering from Covid-19,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in the statement.
“Economically, epidemiologically and morally, it is in all countries’ best interest to use the latest available data to make lifesaving vaccines available to all,” he added.
Radina Gigova reported from Atlanta; Jeevan Ravindran wrote from London.