Outcome Of Global Covid Policy - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE



Sunday, January 2, 2022

Outcome Of Global Covid Policy

| The Daily Crucible | Sunday, January 2, 2022

By Tunji Offeyi

The African saying that you cannot clap with one hand rings true when we think about the Global North’s approach in tackling the Covid 19 pandemic by continuously vaccinating their citizens,compared to the situation for people in the Global South. This is an apartheid system that is as good as pouring water into a basket, only for it to leak through. Therefore, instead of moving into an endemic stage of this plague, we are now dealing with the international spread of a new variant called Omicron, thanks to the global ‘I don’t care’ Covid policy.

According to Our World in Data, available on 29 December 2021 , 57.4% of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. 8.99 billion doses have been administered globally, and 33.05 million are currently being administered daily. However, only 8.3% of people in the least developed countries have received at least one dose.

The above data speaks volumes about the skewed nature of vaccination distribution among nations. The maxim ‘injury to one is injury to all’ gives further insight into the situation – or to put it mildly, as we say in Yoruba culture, ‘a rich man amongst six poor siblings is equally a poor person’. Whilst this wisdom doesn’t seem to be a concern of the richer countries’ leadership, the virus has refused to be discriminatory. Thus, while the UK, US, Canada and several other countries were banning flights to the West from Southern African countries, including Nigeria, community transmission of the disease had already taken place in those Western countries.

Covid 19 pathogens cannot be barricaded; attempting to do so is like trying to imprison the air we breathe. Yes, this writer believes in policies that attempt to keep the disease at bay, but disagrees with the current methodology of ‘self-care’. Only a global concerted simultaneous effort can truly curtail and contain this rampant disease – especially because it is airborne, unlike the Ebola outbreaks, for instance.

Perhaps shamed by this absurd situation, President Joe Biden of the United States promised the least developed nations 500 million doses of vaccines donation . Although this is a welcome development, it’s only a drop in the ocean, considering that the real way to achieve an equal distribution of vaccines is by sharing vaccines’ patents, as ‘knowledge is power’. This would enable African scientists and those from other corners of the world to produce the same vaccines in their own domain – this can be thought of as allowing them to fish in their own pool, rather than being given fish as a gift.

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa was unable to convince other G7 leaders to agree to patent waivers, even though he had previously managed to persuade President Biden and Emmanuel Macron of France. All of these Western shenanigans are doing nothing but delaying the pandemic from becoming endemic; and this will only keep allowing new mutations of the virus to unfortunately spring up.

Although we hope that this won’t happen, scientifically it is to be expected in this situation, due to the selfishness of big pharmas, and the global apathy of the most advanced economies’ governments in jointly tackling Covid 19. The new president of Peru, Pedro Castillo, is unimpressed by this attitude – thus, he requested an international agreement to achieve universal equality of access to the coronavirus vaccine and patent waivers. He stated that ‘the pandemic has demonstrated the inability of the international system to cooperate under the principles of efficiency and solidarity.’

President Pedro Castilo
Nick Dearden, the director of UK-based campaigning organisation Justice Now, like Amnesty International, has lent his voice to accusing the rich countries and corporations of exacerbating a human rights crisis. He pointed out that Pfizer and BioNTech, makers of leading cutting-edge vaccines, have supplied nine times more vaccines to Sweden than to all low-income countries combined. Pfizer, BioNTech and Moderna will gross over $133bn in revenues by the end of 2022 from these vaccines. Despite this, ‘none of them – nor indeed any other Western producer – will openly share their know-how so others can produce the vaccines we need,’ Dearden lamented. ‘They thrive on the secrecy which boosts their profits.’

The World Health Organization’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also confirmed that the world has indeed ‘Entered a vaccine apartheid’, and that ‘The big problem is a lack of sharing. So, the solution is more sharing.’ He added: ‘While we appreciate the work of AstraZeneca who have been steadily increasing the speed and volume of their deliveries, we need other manufacturers to follow suit.’

I hereby conclude that only a collective policy decision will protect the world against this pandemic, which is no respecter of the economic or medical advancement of nations – which means that countries like the United States, UK, Italy, Belgium and Germany are feeling the pandemic disaster as much as Brazil, Peru, South Africa and India. Whether the Global North acknowledges it or not, this disease is a leveller. We either float or sink together, there is no other way around it.

Therefore, joining other concerned global citizens, I call for a change of global public policy in this regard – and perhaps beyond it, as this dichotomy is not just Covid-related.

In fact, it is manifested in several other global inequalities, such as economic, environmental, social and humanitarian issues, whereby the West has continued to lord it over the rest of the world with a neo-colonial mindset.

Tunji Offeyi is a UK based journalist, who started his practice in Nigeria. He is also a poet and writer.

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