Recently, Bill Gates published an article “A three-part plan to eliminate COVID-19”, saying that one or more safe and effective new crown vaccines are likely to be ready early next year. This progress will give the world an opportunity to eliminate the threat of the new crown epidemic and gradually return to normal. IT Home learned that to achieve this goal, the world needs to do three things first: a mass production capacity of billions of doses of vaccine, sufficient funds to pay for the vaccine, and a well-functioning vaccine delivery system.
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The world is about to usher in an amazing scientific achievement: one or more safe and effective new crown vaccines are likely to be ready early next year. This progress will give the world an opportunity to eliminate the threat of the new crown epidemic and gradually return to normal. We will be immune to the new crown, quarantine measures will be lifted, people will no longer need to wear masks, and the world economy will operate at full speed again. But the epidemic will not end on its own. To achieve this goal, the world needs to do three things first: a mass production capacity of billions of doses of vaccine, sufficient funds to pay for the vaccine, and a well-functioning vaccine delivery system.
Vaccine production capacity
At present, the global supply of new crown vaccines is prepared for wealthy countries. These countries have been negotiating with pharmaceutical companies to ensure that the vaccine has the right to purchase billions of doses as soon as the vaccine is produced.
But what about low- and middle-income countries? From South Sudan to Nicaragua to Myanmar and so on, these countries are home to nearly half of the world’s population, but they do not have the purchasing power to make large deals with pharmaceutical companies. Judging from the current reality, the doses that these countries can obtain can only cover up to 14% of their population.
■ The gap between the rich and the poor for the new crown vaccine. The rich countries have pre-ordered the new crown vaccine far beyond what is needed, and the poor countries are far behind / Financial Times, CNN, BBC, etc.
A new data model developed by Northeastern University helps illustrate the consequences if vaccines cannot be distributed fairly.
Researchers at the university analyzed two situations: one is to distribute vaccines to all countries based on the proportion of population; the other is a situation similar to the reality we face, that is, about 50 rich countries and regions have obtained the 2 billion doses of vaccine. In the second case, the new crown virus will continue to spread uncontrollably in three-quarters of the world for four months. Compared with the first case, the number of deaths caused by this will be twice that of the former.
■The mortality rate of equal distribution of vaccines compared with the situation without vaccines / Tohoku University MOBS Laboratory
This will be a huge moral absence. Vaccines can make COVID-19 a preventable disease, and no one should die of a preventable disease just because the country in which they live cannot afford the manufacturing and transaction costs.
However, even if you do not care about the issue of fairness, you can foresee the first situation, that is, the consequences of “rich countries first.” In this case, we will become the second Australia or New Zealand: these two countries have made long-term efforts, and there are already very few domestic cases, but their economic downturn continues because their trading partners are still in lockdown. Occasionally, virus carriers will still pass through the Pacific Ocean in Vietnam, causing local infection and community spread, and schools and offices have to be closed again.
Even if there is an oversupply of vaccines, there is still a risk of re-infection and epidemics in rich countries-because in those places, not everyone will choose to be vaccinated. The only way to eradicate the threat of disease is to eliminate it everywhere.
The best way to fill the vaccine gap is not to blame the rich countries, because what they are doing is completely understandable-for the purpose of protecting their own citizens. A better way is to strive to increase vaccine production capacity worldwide. Only in this way can we take care of everyone, no matter where they live. At this level, the popularization of new crown drugs has made significant progress. Pharmaceutical companies have agreed to use each other’s factories to maximize production capacity. For example, Remdesivir (Remdesivir) was developed by Gilead, but now Pfizer’s factory will produce more remdesivir. Before, no company allowed its own factory to be used by competitors in this way. Now, we have seen similar cooperation in vaccines. This morning (September 29), 16 pharmaceutical companies and our foundation signed an important agreement. These companies agreed to cooperate in vaccine production and expand the scale of production at an unprecedented speed to ensure that the approved vaccine is as soon as possible Is widely distributed.
In addition to considering the production capacity of vaccines, we also need to raise funds to pay billions of doses of vaccines for poor countries. This is precisely “global cooperation to accelerate the development, production, and fair access to new tools for the prevention and control of new coronary pneumonia” (referred to as “ACT-A” ) Where the action plan can contribute. This action is advocated and supported by organizations such as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (“Gavi”) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (“Global Fund”). Few people may have heard of these two international multilateral organizations, but they have been deeply involved in global health for two decades and have become experts and major contributors to providing vaccines, diagnostic tools and medicines to poor countries.
The efforts of pharmaceutical companies have made the problem of a global shortage of funds much easier. Pharmaceutical companies have given up profiting from any new coronavirus vaccine and promised to make it as affordable as possible, but if they want all people in need to be vaccinated, a lot of public funding is still needed.
Vaccine delivery system
Finally, even if the world already has sufficient vaccine production capacity and funding, we also need to strengthen the health system-health workers and related infrastructure that can actually deliver vaccines to people in need around the world. We can gain a lot of experience from the ongoing campaign to eradicate polio.
There was a photo that left a deep impression on me. During the eradication of polio in India, a group of health workers had to wore a vaccine cooler on their heads and trek in waist-deep floods in order to reach remote villages for vaccination. .
Detecting cases of new coronary pneumonia in the poorest areas in the world will also require a similar network of primary health workers-covering places that are not even accessible by road. With good diagnostic tools, these health workers can also issue alarms in time. In other words, in the process of eliminating the new crown, we can also build a system that will help reduce the harm of the next pandemic.
In studying the history of pandemics, I learned one thing: pandemics are rare, and can make people self-interested or altruistic—the two instincts combined into one. This is the case to ensure that poor countries have equal access to the new crown vaccine-altruism is self-interest.