Microsoft Co-founder and Billionaire Philanthropist, Bill Gates, has lamented the low access to COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries, warning that if things do not improve, COVID-19 would be treated as a disease of the poor.
He said this in a press release on the 5th Goalkeepers Report of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation illustrating the pandemic’s adverse impact on progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
“The lack of equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines is a public health tragedy. We face the very real risk that in the future, wealthy countries and communities will begin treating COVID-19 as yet another disease of poverty. We can’t put the pandemic behind us until everyone, regardless of where they live, has access to vaccines,” he said.
He said more than 80 per cent of all COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in high- and upper-middle-income countries to date, with some securing two to three times the number needed so they can cover boosters.
“Less than one per cent of doses have been administered in low-income countries. Further, COVID-19 vaccine access has been strongly correlated with the locations where there is vaccine R&D and manufacturing capability. Though Africa is home to 17 per cent of the world’s population, for example, it has less than 1 per cent of the world’s vaccine manufacturing capabilities,” the report adds.
The Goalkeepers’ report states that there are huge disparities in COVID-19 impacts.
It adds that because of COVID-19, an additional 31 million people were pushed into extreme poverty in 2020 compared to 2019, adding that while 90 per cent of advanced economies will regain pre-pandemic per capita income levels by next year, only a third of low- and middle-income economies are expected to do so.