Dame Sarah Gilbert, who led the development of the Oxford / AstraZeneca jab, called for urgent action from wealthier nations, saying “no one is safe until we are all safe”.
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More than 40% of the world’s population are now vaccinated against Covid-19 – but less than 2% in low-income countries.
The Oxford University professor who developed the AstraZeneca jab quoted the statistics in an open letter calling for more doses to be shared around the world.
Lady Sarah Gilbert reiterated that “no one is safe until we are all safe” when she called for urgent action on richer nations.
She wrote: “It is more important than ever that we not forget the lives that could be saved by giving the first and second doses to the most vulnerable populations around the world, and the opportunity that the global distribution of vaccines offers us to protect all by reducing the selection of further variants. “
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By September, 41.5% of the world’s population had received at least one dose, but only 1.9% of people in low-income countries.
Developed at Oxford, the AstraZeneca jab was most commonly used in poorer countries, but due to limited supplies, richer countries accumulated supplies.
Lady Sarah said wealthier countries are about to have an “embarrassment of wealth” as more cans are produced here.
She warned that poorer countries still lack the infrastructure to distribute and manage widespread vaccination programs.
She said: “While restrictions on the supply of a limited number of products in the early stages of vaccine launch resulted in intense competition for these doses and serious inequalities in their distribution, we can now imagine facing a very different problem in the months ahead to be.” .
“One where the volume of supply exceeds the vaccine intake and dispensing capacity in the countries with the greatest outstanding demand.
“The new need for international relief efforts will be to support large-scale delivery to ensure that recipient countries can quickly meet their coverage goals.
“Significant challenges remain, from moving a vaccine around a country – especially vaccines that need to be kept ultra-cold – to intangibles like the ubiquitous vaccine delay.
“Ensuring that these life-saving doses reach the people at risk is one of the most pressing challenges of the next phase of this global pandemic.”
Your letter was written together with Dr. Richard Hatchett, executive director of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and published in Science Translational Medicine.
Dr. Hatchett added, “Although over 6.3 billion doses of these vaccines have been administered to date, equal access to these life-saving tools remains pathetically inadequate and urgently needs to be addressed.”