UN Analysis Shows Link Between Vaccine Equity and Rising Inequalities |

In September 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) set an ambitious global goal. The UN health agency has called for 70 percent of the world’s population to be vaccinated by mid-2022.

At that time, just over three percent of people in low-income countries had been vaccinated with at least one dose, compared with 60.18 percent in high-income countries.

Six months later, the world is still far from reaching that goal.

The total number of vaccines administered has skyrocketed, but disparities have also widened: of the 10.7 billion doses distributed worldwide, only one percent was administered in low-income countries.

This means that 2.8 billion people around the world are still waiting for their first shot..

Vaccine injustice endangers the safety of everyone and great responsibility for the growing inequality between and within countries. Not only does this state of affairs risk prolonging the pandemic, the lack of equity has many other consequences, slowing down the recovery of entire economies, global labor markets, public debt repayments, and the ability of countries to invest in other priorities.

Recovery is harder than ever

Two years after the start COVID-19 pandemic, poorer countries are finding it harder than ever to rebuild their economies, labor markets are suffering, public debt remains stubbornly high, and there is little left in the treasury to invest in other priorities.

New UNDP analysis shows that most vulnerable countries are in sub-Saharan Africa, including Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Chad, where less than one percent of the population is fully vaccinated. Outside of Africa, Haiti and Yemen have not yet reached 2% coverage.

Research shows that while last September low-income countries had the same vaccination rates as high-income countries (about 54%), they would increase their GDP by $16.27 billion in 2021..

The countries estimated to have lost the most potential income during the pandemic due to vaccine disparities are Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.

This forgone income could be used to address other pressing development needs, in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that make up The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developmentorganization’s plan for a future that is just for people and the planet.

In South Sudan, for example, the costs associated with COVID-19 vaccinations could cover all the costs of social assistance programs and education in the country, while in Burundi, the costs could amount to provided medical care to approximately 4.7 million people.

While prolonged lockdowns around the world have hurt workers around the world, people in developing countries have again been disproportionately affected. Wealthier countries softened the blow by increasing economic support for both formal and informal workers, while in low-income countries, support declined between 2020 and 2021.

UNDP is supporting Sudanese farmers whose incomes and yields have been affected by COVID-19 related restrictions.

UNDP/Ahmed Alsamani

UNDP is supporting Sudanese farmers whose incomes and yields have been affected by COVID-19 related restrictions.

Where do we go from here?

Urgent access to vaccines and funding – such as grants and concessions proposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is important for the poorest countries, along with support tailored to the situation faced by each individual country, according to the analysis.

Many, for example, have benefited from vaccination campaigns run by international organizations, and these experiences may influence how COVID-19 vaccinations are administered.

AND Global Dashboard for Vaccine Equity, developed UNDPThe World Health Organization (WHO) and the University of Oxford are helping researchers and policymakers conduct their own analysis and develop programs that can bring the greatest benefit to their citizens and somehow address global inequality.

If vaccine equity is not achieved soon, the consequences could be severe. As UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on March 10, closer cooperation between countries is needed to quickly stop the pandemic, while a delay in vaccination could lead to an escalation of social tension and violence and a lost decade for development.

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