Prof. Olanike Adeyemo on Tuesday in Ibadan said that collaboration instead of competition in vaccine distribution, tests, and treatments would be an important strategy toward ending the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Adeyemo of the Department of Veterinary Public Health and Preventive Medicine, University of Ibadan, stated this in an interview.
According to her, no country is safe until everyone in that country is COVID-19 free.
She said that the pledge by G7 leaders in Cornwall to work toward vaccine equity would mean nothing if countries of the world did not have a strategy that would recognise an integrated approach to health care.
“In fact, when the WHO called on countries to work together for vaccine equity in January 2021, the aim was to ensure access to the vaccine across the continent.
“A second call in May, when the WHO called for 20 million doses of COVID-19 highlighted the growing gap.
“According to the Centre for Disease Control, CDC, about 35 per cent of Americans had been fully vaccinated by early May compare to Africa where only 1.12 per cent have received at least one dose,” she said.
Adeyemo said that invisible to the calls was the underlying principle that vaccine equity needed a one-health approach.
“Collaboration, instead of competition, is needed to enhance synergies of various sectors in improving healthcare standard.
“COVID-19 vaccine equity means that everyone, everywhere should have access to the vaccines as quickly as possible, starting with those at highest risk of serious disease or death,” she said.
According to Adeyemo, although there is a global alliance for fair and equitable vaccine distribution, COVID-19 vaccines are developed by pharmaceuticals and organisations, who are in business for profit.
“COVAX is working to accelerate the development and the manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines and ensure that there is fair and equitable access to these vaccines for all countries.
“However, the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, does not necessarily translate to access for most countries classified as developing economies, who do not have the financial capabilities to purchase enough vaccines for their citizens.
“COVAX facility was expected to deliver no less than 90 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa in the first quarter of 2021 and 2 billion by the end of the year. However, the quantity allocated to the region is inadequate considering the population of people on the continent.
“To date, Nigeria has received nearly 4 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine via the COVAX Facility,” she said.