For the 36 countries with the lowest vaccination rates, supply isn’t the only issue

The United States and many other wealthy nations, you can receive free COVID vaccine at the supermarkets as well as pharmacies and clinics.

And in other nations, it’s quite different.

“The vaccine is not available in the north (of Yemen),” says Jasmin Lavoie, a member of the Norwegian Refugee Council, based in the northern city of Sana’a. “If a person wanted to get vaccinated, that person would have to go south. So he drives about 15 to 20 hours across the front lines in the mountains.” Even if you do make the treacherous trip through war zones, there is no way to know if the vaccine will be readily available. Like other countries with low incomes, Yemen has struggled to obtain the vaccine.

“Yemen has been one of the places with the lowest vaccination rates in the world,” Lavoie explains. “And that’s despite the fact that we’ve experienced three waves of COVID.” Today less than 2 percent of Yemenis are completely vaccination-free.

Yemen is one of the 36 countries that are below the immunization threshold of 10 and some have rates that are below 2percent. A large portion of Africa’s middle section is included in this category, which includes significant political and economic players such as Kenya, Nigeria and Senegal.

Contrary to this, many developed countries have completely vaccination rates of more than 80 percent of their population.

What is it that makes Africa so far from the rest of the world?

Maaza Seyoum, a member of the African Alliance which is an advocacy group that is based within South Africa, says there are a variety of factors that contribute into the low rates of vaccination in a variety of countries on this continent. However, the most significant issue is that African countries have been having difficulty receiving the vaccine. dose.

“In the beginning, 100 percent, I would say that the problem was lack of access (to vaccines) and a global system that did not prioritize African countries,” Maaza says. Wealthy nations bought more vaccines from pharmaceutical firms than they were able to use. This WHO-backed COVAX program failed because it was heavily dependent on donations made by the public, and also manufacturers in India who were unable to exporting doses after the quantity of COVID cases skyrocketed all across India’s subcontinent. Certain African countries were able to obtain supplies from China however Beijing frequently prioritised donations to its wealthier trading partners.

This has changed, according to Maaza. In recent years, the number of vaccines delivered to Africa have been increasing. But there are also new challenges: the deliveries aren’t always consistent and some less well-known brands are preparing to expire.

“Now we’re looking at the drip, drip, drip type of vaccines,” she adds. “People are waiting for the vaccines to come. They come, then they stop.”

The unpredictable supply chain, she claims is making it almost impossible for African nations to coordinate mass vaccination campaigns. In some areas where no one has had the shot, rumors of the mysterious vaccine have risen and concerns about the vaccine are growing.

“The truth is that there are doubts about vaccines everywhere,” Maaza says. Maaza. “But while people wait, it leaves fertile ground for these rumors to circulate.”

That makes convincing people go to a clinic to be vaccinated more difficult.

What’s the reason for the low lower numbers of vaccines than 10%??

The World Health Organization has set an objective to reach 40% coverage of vaccination by 2021’s end. The 36 countries currently below 10% did not even get close to. Kate O’Brien, director of immunization and vaccinations for the World Health Organization, says that this is a serious issue.

“For countries struggling to get above 10%, what this means is that health workers are still not fully vaccinated,” she states. “It means that the older populations, the ones with underlying medical conditions, the people who are most at risk are still not fully protected.”

She admits that the inequity of vaccine distribution is a large reason why vaccination rates are low in these countries, but she says there are other causes too. Some in these nations had healthcare systems which struggled prior to the outbreak to meet the local medical needs. A few of them need to improve refrigeration systems in order to allow for the storage of certain mRNA vaccines at very low temperatures. Other require the use of syringes. All of this is a cost that health ministries in countries with low incomes may not have.

“A COVID vaccine campaign requires funding,” says O’Brien. Countries require funds “to deploy new health workers and ensure clinics have the resources they need.”

While there was some international assistance to assist low-income countries but the assistance has been inconsistent and unstable at times.

The ongoing conflict is a further problem

Apart from Africa The other nations which have not yet reached the 10% coverage of COVID are among the most problematic across the globe, such as Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan and Haiti.

The current conflict has forced the displacement of 4 million of the 30 million Yemenis of their houses. Different groups are in control of different areas in the nation. Based on the UN over 2/3 of the population requires aid for emergencies. But international aid organizations have struggled to meet those demands and sustaining their work in the country, due to the current state of instability and a lack of funds.

For the majority of people living in Yemen living life can be incredibly difficult. COVID vaccinations “are not at the top of the priority list for many people in Yemen,” states Jasmin Lavoie, a researcher at NRC. He claims that the majority of Yemenis have a hard time trying to locate the food they need, shelter and and decent restrooms, and worry about whether they’ll have to flee from the fighting again. “These are the reasons people don’t get vaccinated either,” He says.

Similar problems exist in other areas of conflict. “In a place like Afghanistan, in a place like Syria, COVID is not their number one priority,” says Paul Spiegel, who directs the Johns Hopkins University Center for Humanitarian Health.

Spiegel was back in Baltimore after working in Afghanistan in the middle of December. “[Vaccination] campaigns are underway,” Spiegel says, but he also notes that vaccination campaigns are hampered due to the limited supply of vaccines. “A good part of it is Johnson and Johnson, which makes a lot of sense in the Afghanistan situation because it’s just one dose,” He says.

But , like in Yemen the upheavals in society in Afghanistan and the aftermath of the US departing in the wake of an increase in the Taliban coming back to power has put COVID to the back of the pack. The vaccination campaigns aren’t the top priority of the Taliban despite the fact that the Taliban has stated that he supports COVAX in addition to UN vaccine campaigns.

It’s not a top prioritization for Afghans. “Right now there is such a dire humanitarian situation there,” the doctor says. “[Afghans] are worried about putting food on the table, they’re worried about feeding their children. And so, COVID is not a priority for the average person.”

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