Combatting global vaccine inequity

Burnet Institute

10 March, 2022

Burnet Institute Director and CEO Professor Brendan Crabb AC is advocating for vaccine equity to be prioritised on the world’s agenda in 2022.

Responding to new data published by highlighting the disparity in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout between high- and low-income countries, Professor Crabb told SBS: “As long as we have deep vaccine inequity, we will have a pandemic.”

“To end it, we actually have to end it for all of us. We can’t leave any country behind.”

Professor Crabb said wealthy countries have a huge amount of control over COVID-19 vaccines, so it’s no surprise they have higher vaccination rates.

“Rich countries make the vaccines, they own intellectual property relating to those vaccines, they’re also quite expensive as a general rule, and for a while, there’s been limited supply,” he said.

“But when wealthy countries have so much control over the world vaccine supply, for them to be not providing it to everybody when that’s the answer to their own problems, it’s quite remarkable.”

Professor Crabb said vaccine hoarding by rich countries has had a devastating trickle-down effect.

“That’s placed 80-odd countries in the world with less than 40 per cent double dose coverage, and 30 countries in the world with less than 10 per cent vaccine coverage, a lot of them in Africa.

“A third of the world’s population has not even had a single dose of a vaccine – that’s not only terrible for them, but it’s an own goal for everybody.”

While Australia has pledged AUD $130 million to COVAX, the worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to vaccines, Professor Crabb said it’s important the scheme be ramped up.

“It’s working in the Asia-Pacific, and it’s working very much for Africa, where vaccine rates all across the entire continent are very, very low,” he said.

“We want to make sure we’re not here in a year’s time talking about why we have a new variant or why COVID is still on the radar. The reason will be because we didn’t face up to the fact we needed to deliver vaccines to everybody and not just ourselves.”

Click here to read the SBS News article in full.

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