A new analysis released Thursday shows that with an investment of just $25 billion dollars—around 3% of what the U.S. spends on its military each year—the world could establish regional manufacturing hubs to produce eight billion coronavirus vaccine doses in less than a year.
“The sooner we start, the more lives we will save and the faster our world will stop unraveling.”
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The new report by Public Citizen shows that with a minimal investment by the wealthiest nations, enough vaccine supply could be produced to inoculate 80% of the population in low- and middle-income countries by May 2022.
“The global vaccine apartheid is a policy choice,” the People’s Vaccine Alliance tweeted Thursday.
“We have the means to end it,” the group added, referring to the new report compiled by Dr. Zoltán Kis, a research associate at the Centre for Process Systems Engineering at Imperial College London, and Zain Rizvi, law and policy researcher in Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines Program.
At present, of the more than 1.78 billion shots that have been administered worldwide, just 0.3% have gone into the arms of people living in low-income countries, with high- and middle-income countries receiving 85% of the doses. If present trends continue, impoverished nations in the Global South won’t be vaccinated until 2024, experts say.
Global vaccine inequality has intensified the spread of Covid-19, particularly in South Asia and Latin America. While the virus has officially claimed the lives of nearly 3.5 million people worldwide so far, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated last week that Covid-19’s true death toll is between six to eight million people, and the world has yet to respond adequately to the public health catastrophe.
In the report, Kis and Rizvi described how “the global community could set up regional hubs capable of producing eight billion mRNA vaccine doses” within a year. As the researchers noted:
“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the urgent need for distributed manufacturing,” the report noted.
While raw materials for mRNA vaccines “currently cost more than materials for other kinds of vaccines… mRNA production facilities can be smaller, cheaper, and faster to establish,” the authors wrote. Furthermore, “many more manufacturing facilities can also be retrofitted to produce mRNA vaccines, compared to other kinds of vaccines.”
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