The weekly number of global cases of COVID-19 hit a RECORD high last week. But, 1 billion (BILLION) doses of vaccines have been administered. What’s happening? “Weren’t vaccines supposed to douse the flames of the pandemic?”
“𝐘𝐞𝐬, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐚𝐫𝐞. 𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞’𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭 𝐚𝐧 𝐢𝐧𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐧𝐨: 𝐈𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 𝐨𝐟 𝐢𝐭, 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐤𝐞𝐞𝐩 𝐛𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠.”
✅ Those words are from Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Director General of the WHO). I’ve written about meeting him before here: https://www.facebook.com/friendlyneighborepidemiologist/posts/276389680650355
𝐖𝐡𝐲 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐡𝐚𝐩𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐰𝐞 𝐝𝐨?
✅ The Why:
- 81% of vaccines have been given in high-income countries. Low-income countries received just 0.3%. “This problem is sadly predictable. When the H.I.V. epidemic erupted in the 1980s, lifesaving antiretrovirals were developed rapidly, and yet a decade passed before they became available in sub-Saharan Africa.”
- “First, vaccine nationalism has weakened Covax, with a handful of rich countries gobbling up the anticipated supply as manufacturers sell to the highest bidder, while the rest of the world scrambles for the scraps. Some countries have placed orders for enough doses to vaccinate their entire population several times over, promising to share only after they have used everything they need, perpetuating the pattern of patronage that keeps the world’s have-nots exactly where they are.”
- The US’s decision to pull out of the WHO in 2020 was directly detrimental to vaccine nationalism. COVAX was formed to provide equal and equitable distribution of vaccines for all. We can walk and chew gum at the same time – which means we could have ordered vaccines here in high-income countries while at the same time not hoarding or pulling out of the WHO. (We are back in the WHO, thankfully, but the damage has been done.)
- I realize some of you will read #3 as me being political. I’m not. But, it is important to understand there is a history to vaccine nationalism and pulling out of the WHO reverberated detrimentally to poorer countries. The proper usage of power and privilege matters deeply to a global pandemic and that was not seen in 2020. We have got to understand that this pandemic will not end for us until countries have equitable and widespread access to COVID-19 vaccines, testing, PPE, and other items that privileged/high-income countries have gobbled up. This brings me to point #5.
- “Variants have emerged from countries that have uncontrolled COVID19 outbreaks: UK, Brazil, South Africa, USA, India…Health is a fundamental human right. Vaccine equity is an expression of global solidarity.” – Dr. Madhukar Pai (one of the leading global epidemiologists in the world). The more virus circulating in ALL countries, the more risk we are of a variant that will not respond to vaccines. Yes, we can tweak our current vaccines to overcome that. But that will take time. And, why would we use that as a back-up plan when we can tamp down the cases through our individual choices?
- What we do in the US and other high-income countries matter. Our individual choices of masking, distancing, getting a vaccine affects our global neighbors. In other words, it’s not just about us. I say that with as much compassion and empathy as I can through a FB post and I know many of you are (and have been) making the neighborly choices all along. But, also with some hard truth to others that our choices matter to our neighbors in our own countries and other countries. Our neighbors on the margins of poverty, food insecurity, and lack of access are affected the most (globally and in the US).
✅ 𝐖𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐰𝐞 𝐝𝐨? 𝐖𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐧’𝐭 𝐝𝐨 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐰𝐞 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐝𝐨 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠.
👉 1. Change the rhetoric on vaccine nationalism. Promote global solidarity to your friends and neighbors. The first step is education for ourselves on global matters. I’m including 2 of the best articles in the sources I could find to get you started.
👉 2. You can sign the declaration for global vaccine equity through the WHO’s campaign. Advocate for vaccine equity here: https://www.who.int/campaigns/annual-theme/year-of-health-and-care-workers-2021/vaccine-equity-declaration
👉 3. I’m working with my global colleagues on how we can donate since many of you asked about that yesterday with the post on India. I’ll keep you updated.
👉 4. Continue masking, distancing, getting your vaccine when you can. We cannot declare the pandemic is over and back-to-normal until the rest of the world can say it too. I recognize we are all weary at this point. We all are, friends, and I get that. 𝐁𝐮𝐭, 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐰𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐩𝐥𝐞𝐝 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡 𝐩𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐲 𝐢𝐬 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐚 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠 – 𝐢𝐭’𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐭𝐨𝐦 𝐛𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧 𝐩𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐭𝐲 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 (𝐢𝐧𝐜𝐥𝐮𝐝𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐔𝐒). 𝐈’𝐦 𝐚𝐬𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐲 𝐨𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐭𝐨 𝐩𝐮𝐭 𝐟𝐞𝐞𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠𝐬 𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐝𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫 𝐠𝐨𝐨𝐝. 𝐖𝐞𝐚𝐫 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐦𝐚𝐬𝐤𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐚 𝐯𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐞. 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐦𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭 𝐧𝐨𝐭 𝐬𝐞𝐞 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐬 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐢𝐧 𝐈𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐚, 𝐏𝐞𝐫𝐮, 𝐒𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐥𝐢𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐝, 𝐓𝐚𝐧𝐳𝐚𝐧𝐢𝐚, 𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐫-𝐜𝐢𝐭𝐲 𝐀𝐭𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐚, 𝐫𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐥-𝐓𝐞𝐱𝐚𝐬, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐢𝐭 𝐝𝐨𝐞𝐬. 𝐔𝐬𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐩𝐨𝐰𝐞𝐫 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐩𝐫𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐥𝐞𝐠𝐞 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧 𝐚𝐭 𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐝𝐮𝐚𝐥 𝐥𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐥𝐬 𝐦𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐫.
✅ Love thy neighbor.
***A note about this post. These posts always garner comments saying I lose credibility because I write about global issues, racially-charged comments towards our global brothers and sisters, and threats. My banning mode will be strong against these today. We have a right to our opinions. But when those are centered around a false narrative of colonial/nationalistic undertones that are not centered around love-thy-neighbor, that’s not free speech. Just FYI.
Dr. Tedros’ article “I run the W.H.O and I know that rich countries must make a choice: If they keep their vaccine promises, the pandemic can end.”: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/22/opinion/who-covid-vaccines.html
Dr. Pai’s article “10 reasons why everyone should advocate for COVID-19 vaccine equity”: https://naturemicrobiologycommunity.nature.com/posts/10-reasons-why-everyone-should-advocate-for-covid-19-vaccine-equity 👉