G-20 News

Importance of equitable vaccine distribution


Likewise, this year has shown us how interconnected our economies are. Let me use an example you all know

Globally, the number of weekly COVID-19 cases and deaths has increased for more than a month.

During the week of November 15-21, 2021, nearly 3.6 million new confirmed cases and over 51,000 deaths were reported, reflecting a 6% increase in cases and deaths from the previous week , based on WHO data.

The European region reported an 11% increase in new weekly cases, while the other regions reported a decrease or similar incidence to the previous week.

The largest proportional decrease was reported in the Southeast Asia region, at 11 percent, followed by the Eastern Mediterranean region, at nine percent.

While the Western Pacific Region and the Region of the Americas reported a relatively stable incidence of cases, they both reported large increases in new weekly deaths, at 29% and 19% respectively.

In contrast, regions of Africa and Southeast Asia reported a 30% and 19% decrease in new weekly deaths.

The cumulative number of confirmed cases reported worldwide currently stands at over 256 million, while the cumulative number of deaths exceeds 5.1 million.

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Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the world currently has a powerful weapon to defeat COVID-19.

A total of 24 COVID-19 vaccines have been approved for use, and approximately 7.6 billion vaccines have been administered worldwide.

“If we see the results, they are obvious. The global economy is showing signs of life and is expected to grow 5.9% in 2021 and 4.9% in 2022. Borders are reopening and international travel has gradually resumed. Face-to-face meetings have started to take place, including recent G-20 and COP summits, ”the minister said at Global Town Hall 2021.

Marsudi noted that images of crowded football stadiums and concerts give people a glimmer of hope that life will soon return to normal.

“However, let’s be clear, we are still in the midst of the pandemic. We have recorded nearly 260 million cases worldwide and 5.2 million deaths from COVID-19,” she noted.

The minister noted that these numbers are four to five times higher than a year ago. WHO has noted an upward trend in weekly cases worldwide, with increases in the Americas and Europe.

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Several factors are helping to prolong the pandemic, such as inconsistent public health measures and a hasty reopening.

However, the WHO has made it clear that “the pandemic persists largely because inequitable access to tools persists.”

The minister noted that from the beginning, Indonesia had called for a fair and equitable distribution of vaccines. President Joko Widodo has raised his concerns in bilateral, regional and multilateral forums.

“I also co-chair the COVAX Advanced Market Engagement Engagement Group created to facilitate access to vaccines for 92 countries. We knew that vaccines would be scarce and that scarce products are often only sold to the highest bidder. This is exactly what is happening right now, ”she said.

Some 64.99% of people in high-income countries have been vaccinated, with at least one dose, compared to 6.48% in low-income countries, she noted.

More than 80 percent of vaccines went to G-20 countries, compared to 0.4 percent to low-income countries.

Six times more boosters are given around the world every day than primary doses in low-income countries, Marsudi said.

Some 56 countries have failed to meet the WHO target of immunizing 10 percent of their population by September 2021, and nearly 80 countries may not meet the 40 percent immunization target by the end of this year.

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Meanwhile, at least 100 million doses could go unused and expire in G7 countries in 2021 and the number of wasted doses could reach 800 million by mid-2022.

“If all the shots administered worldwide so far were distributed equitably, we would have met our target of 40% in all countries by now,” the minister said.

Instead, she noted, several countries rely on the COVAX facility as the only way to get vaccines. COVAX has shipped over 507 million doses. However, COVAX does not produce vaccines, and it has already failed to meet its target of delivering two billion doses this year.

We still need 550 million vaccines to meet the WHO 40% immunization target in each country. Global production currently stands at nearly 1.5 billion doses per month, so there are actually enough vaccines from a supply standpoint, she noted.

“But will they be evenly distributed this time around?” The challenges of immunizing the world do not end there. We have to put the blows in as many arms as possible, and it is not a simple task. There is disinformation and hoaxes to counter, as they contribute to the reluctance to vaccinate, ”Marsudi noted.

The minister noted that not all countries were ready to receive a large number of doses, let alone have a national strategy for distributing them.

On average, low-income countries need to increase their health spending by 56.6% to cover the cost of immunizing 70% of their population, compared to 0.8% for high-income countries.

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“In the short term, I have a few suggestions to make. First, make sure all countries can meet the WHO immunization target. It requires a commitment to fairness. All dose-sharing commitments must be kept immediately, ”she stressed.

Marsudi noted that richer countries, with an oversupply of doses, or with high immunization coverage, should consider sharing their doses. Vaccine manufacturers should also start allocating more doses to COVAX.

“Second, to increase global vaccine production. The diversification of the manufacture of vaccines towards developing countries would contribute to this effort ”, underlined the Minister.

This requires strengthening the necessary infrastructure, research centers, storage facilities and human resources. Restrictions on the export of raw materials must end. Technology transfer should be facilitated, she said.

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Support from Europe

At Global Town Hall 2021, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen noted that Europeans had insisted on agreeing on a common goal to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population by the middle of the year. next year.

“We did it because we know we can only get out of this pandemic together,” she said.

If the virus continues to spread even in one region of the world, new variants may appear. The pandemic will not be over until all continents are safe.

“Likewise, this year has shown us how interconnected our economies are. Let me use an example that you all know, ”noted von der Leyen.

Last September, there was an increase in COVID cases in Southeast Asia. Several factories in part of Southeast Asia have had to close. The economic shockwaves have spread around the world.

Global supply chains for cars, computers and smartphones have been disrupted due to the lack of electronic components.

Not only our health is linked, but also our economic recovery. Therefore, we are very happy that the main objective of the next Indonesian presidency of the G20 is “Recover together, recover stronger,” she said.

Von der Leyen asserted that the first step towards a strong recovery is equitable global access to COVID vaccines. It was the policy of Europe from the start of the crisis.

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“When you read about vaccine diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific, Europe is not the first power to be mentioned by the media,” she said.

She noted that since December 2020, the European Union has exported more than 550 million doses of COVID vaccines to countries in Asia-Pacific.

“In total, we exported almost 1.2 billion doses to the rest of the world – more than we used in Europe. Even though we are a distant continent, we have been a vital part of Asian vaccine supplies, ”she said.

Beyond exports, she noted that Europe has also been a strong supporter of global solidarity on vaccines.

“We were among the driving forces behind the creation of COVAX – the global facility providing vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. The European Union and its Member States – we call ourselves ‘Team Europe’ – have contributed over a third of the COVAX budget, and around a third of COVAX doses go to Asia-Pacific, ”said Von der Leyen.

“Nevertheless, we know that we need to increase global vaccine manufacturing capacities. That is why, in our new Indo-Pacific strategy, we propose to work together on pharmaceutical supply chains,” she said. note.

Solidarity and political commitment from all countries are deemed necessary to end the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s time to act. We have enough tools at our disposal to end this pandemic, including vaccines. However, tools are only tools if they are not used correctly.

To make them work, the solidarity and political commitment of all countries are deemed necessary. Only then can we get back together and recover from this pandemic stronger.

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