The COVID-19 has been spreading for the past 11 months affecting every country across the world with more than 55 million confirmed cases and more than 1.3 million deaths. The vast majority of people in the richer or poorer nations are still vulnerable to the virus.
Now we have a vaccine to fight the infection, but the question is when everyone gets it. There are concerns that poorer nations could get left behind.
Through the pledge to Leave No One Behind, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are designed to bring the world to several life-changing ‘zeros’, including zero poverty, hunger, AIDS and discrimination against women and girls.How can the world live up to the Agenda - Leave No One Behind when it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine?
The SDG 3 ensures healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages among other goals. There is also a target under SDG 3 to fight communicable diseases.Now there is a real test before us whether these Global Goals help the world to fight against this global crisis ensuring everyone gets the vaccine.
Looking at the history, there are vaccines to prevent more than 20 life-threatening diseases. At present, immunization annually saves 400 million lives and approximately 80% of worldwide children are vaccinated against several diseases. Yet, many children and adults in low income countries have insufficient access to vaccines. Many died from preventable diseases.
A research from Duke University in North Carolina estimates that 6.4 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have already been bought, and another 3.2 billion are either under negotiation or reserved as "optional expansions of existing deals". No wonder, the research found that the vast majority of vaccine doses that have been bought so far are going to high-income countries.
It is likely that the low- and middle-income countries will start getting the vaccine probably by the mid and the end of next year. Unfortunately, this will leave many people behind even in 2022 if the vaccine is not shared far and wide.
Vaccination is a human rights issue as we have the right to life and the right to health.Achieving Leave No One Behind requires the partnership of governments, private sector, civil society and citizens. The richer nations must be generous while the poor nations must take proactive measures to get the vaccines to their citizens alongside health measures and better treatments.
Let us be remind that no country will be safe until all countries are safe from this pandemic. We need to act now and act together.
Dr. Prabin Manandhar is an expert of international development. Currently, he is working in Iraq as Country Representative of The Lutheran World Federation. He is the Former Chair of the Association of International NGOs in Nepal (AIN). He is also a visiting faculty at the Kathmandu University and the Tribhuvan University Institute of Crisis Management Studies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org