Originally published on Devex on 3 August 2021
Vaccine inequity is one of the most striking — but solvable — challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also provides a wake-up call for what can happen when so-called least-developed countries, or LDCs, are not able to participate fully in global trading systems.
By supporting programs such as COVAX, advancing trade facilitation efforts, and directing more aid toward trade initiatives such as Aid for Trade, the global community can help right this imbalance.
As of Monday, only 1.1 % of people in low-income countries had received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose. This is making it harder to battle a third wave of infections, as the highly transmissible delta variant spreads across many nations.
In the World Health Organization’s Africa region — where a high number of LDCs are located — COVID-19 fatalities surged 44.2% over one week in July. The coronavirus is devastating many LDCs’ already fragile economies and causing poverty and inequality to rise. Without equitable access to vaccines, global economic recovery cannot be sustained and progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals will be derailed.
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