Vaccine Inequity: US shots surplus increases as vaccine woes threaten Africa

*Report indicates that as many as one in three COVID-19 Vaccine doses are unused in some states in the US, just as appointments for jabs often go untaken with few people signing up

*IMF reports Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to be the world’s slowest-growing region this year, as the region is unlikely to reach herd immunity against the disruptive Coronavirus before end of 2023

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

Whereas about 100 countries of the world, especially developing economies and emerging markets are struggling to get Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccines for immunisation, several states and cities in the US have a growing surplus of COVID-19 vaccines.

This is clear a sign that in some places demand is slowing before a large percentage of the population has been inoculated in the country, according to a Bloomberg analysis.

A senior citizen getting vaccinated in the US

Subsequently, as COVID-19 vaccine production surpassed 1 billion doses this week, the world could produce the next billion in a little more than a month, Airfinity Limited, a London-based research company forecast has disclosed.

The statistics indicate that as many as one in three doses are unused in some states in the US, just as appointments for shots often go untaken, with few people signing up, report noted.

Analysis of state and US data from Monday has offered a snapshot of vaccine use before Johnson & Johnson Vaccine shelved millions of shots pending Federal health officials’ investigation into rare cases of blood clots.

Analysts have stated that the pause in Johnson & Johnson’s will likely cause the number of unused shots to fluctuate, but will little change comparisons of states, according to report.

In view of this development, Disney Cruise Line US departures through June 2021 are suspended, the company said in a post on its Web site.

The organisation stated: “We are carefully reviewing the most recently released guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and working toward resuming operations.

“As we continue to refine our protocols for our eventual return to service, we are cancelling all Disney Dream, Disney Fantasy and Disney Wonder sailings departing through June 2021”

As part of its support for funding vaccine programmes, Google announced a series of pledges Thursday, April 15 to fund and promote Coronavirus vaccines across the globe, including $250 million in advertising grants for pro-vaccination groups.

Through philanthropy arm of the global tech giant, Google will pay for 250,000 shots in “low and middle-income countries,” as classified by Google’s partner Gavi, a charity focused on vaccine distribution.

Google is also committing $2.5 million for pop-up vaccination sites and related efforts in Black, Latino and rural U.S. communities.

Now, as the US revels in having vaccine surplus, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said vaccine woes threaten to slow sub-Saharan African rebound from the damaging effects of COVID-19.

According to the Fund, Africa is already forecast to lag the rest of the world this year amid limited access to the much needed vaccines.

In the Fund’s regional economic outlook released Thursday, April 15, 2021, the IMF said growth projections are subject to “greater-than-usual uncertainty”, in connection with the risks of further COVID-19 shocks on the African continent, which exclusively relies on a World Health Organisation (WHO)-led initiative to provide vaccines, known as COVAX Facility.

IMF stated: “If supply and distribution issues continue, most countries will struggle to reach herd immunity before the end of 2023, leaving them exposed to new, more virulent strains of the disease.

“For the international community, ensuring vaccine coverage for sub-Saharan Africa is not simply an issue of local livelihoods and local growth.

“Broad regional coverage is also a global public good.”

The Fund also noted athough sub-Saharan Africa’s economy contracted less than initially expected in 2020, projected expansion of 3.4 percent would make it the slowest-growing region in 2021, as vaccinations pick up in the rest of the world.

The downturn pushed more than 32 million people into extreme poverty last year and per-capita output may not return to pre-pandemic levels until after 2022 or even 2025 for some countries, agency report added.

It was learnt that most African countries, with their finances strained by measures to contain the pandemic, will have to bolster health-care spending by 50 percent to vaccinate more than half of their populations.

Abebe Aemro Selassie, IMF Africa Department Director, in an interview said: “Strong reforms to engender growth, and significant external financing are important, because there’s a lot at stake in terms of reversing the increase in poverty that we’ve seen, and making sure going forward, you actually see growth keeping pace with the rapid population growth.”

ConsumerConnect reports that a proposal to increase the IMF reserve assets in 2021 would provide the African continent with $23 billion, which is said to be only a fraction of the $425 billion the continent needs to finance its recovery through 2025.

The Fund added that the region would need to mobilise private funds to meet investment needs in coming years.

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