Amid the excitement over the arrival of the first batch of vaccines against Covid-19, there is the need to make sure that vaccines reach enough people to attain community immunity.
To have enough vaccines would require big pharmaceutical companies to share their knowledge so more vaccines can be made and brought to low- and middle-income countries like the Philippines.
The arrival of the first batch of vaccines against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) Sunday marked the start of the government’s program to inoculate 60 to 70 percent of the Philippine population.
More vaccine shipments from different sources are expected in the coming weeks. Combining all the shipments lined up for the country so far would not be enough to cover the target percentage of the population to be inoculated.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. had said the government intends to get at least 148 million vaccine doses to inoculate at most 70 million Filipinos to attain herd immunity which is the percentage of the population with immunity to the disease. That is not likely to happen this year. Not with vaccine supply lacking even for rich countries.
United States President Joe Biden has said the US is facing a “national emergency” as it is unable to get enough supply to inoculate 300 million Americans. Injections of the vaccine have been postponed or stopped in some places because of the lack of supply, but Biden is confident the target of 300 million inoculated can be achieved by July. The United Kingdom is on track in its biggest inoculation program but it faces challenges, including unmet supply demands for the millions still awaiting their injection.
Compare that to the vaccine access of low- and middle-income countries, including the Philippines.
According to the #PeoplesVaccine campaign, while nine out of 10 people in poor countries could miss out on a Covid-19 vaccine, rich nations could vaccinate everyone nearly three times.
That’s not fair, not humane. The virus does not discriminate based on economic status. With citizens of poor countries still without access to the vaccine, people of rich countries cannot claim they are safe.
The #PeoplesVaccine campaign is pushing as a solution the release by big pharmaceuticals of information to allow the mass production of the vaccine.
The campaign’s message: “No one is safe from Covid-19 until everyone is safe. Big pharma must step up and deliver a #PeoplesVaccine for everyone, everywhere now.” The Twitter post on this tagged Pfizer, Moderna, BioNTech, AstraZeneca, Novavax, and Johnson & Johnson, the big pharmaceutical companies that have developed vaccines.
Countries should join the call for pharmaceutical companies to share knowledge and not enforce intellectual property restrictions, and to help other manufacturers make more doses of new vaccines.