Pakistan: COVAX Saves the Day

The so-called vaccine politics that was being earlier peddled now falls short with reports and theories of hybrid warfare and a power-play taking place all but having fizzled out. 

Posted on 06/5/21
By Haya Fatima Sehgal | Via Daily Times
(Photo courtesy COVAX Ethiopia, CC license)

America has pledged to share 80 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine. This makes it the largest provider to COVAX, which, in turn, helps bring vaccines to Pakistan. The US is additionally the primary global sponsor for assistance via vaccination donations. Germany and the UK take second and third place, respectively, under the COVAX umbrella. There has been much excitement as the first Pfizer jabs have just landed in Pakistan through the COVAX initiative. The magnanimity of the global powers shows that not only did they move swiftly to inoculate their own populations but are also proactive in giving the world aid as well.

COVAX is a co-led initiative by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). The key delivery partner is UNICEF. COVAX literature states: “Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world.” One now sees how much incredible work they have achieved under great direction and leadership.

All of this marks an important gesture as far as vaccine donations go. In the race to vaccinate their own populations, countries such as America, the UK, and certain EU members have done exceedingly well. They are now making sure low/mid-income countries would get equitable access simultaneously.

Thus the so-called vaccine politics that was being earlier peddled now falls short with reports and theories of hybrid warfare and a power-play taking place all but having fizzled out. 

True enough, developing countries were greatly struggling to acquire the vaccines and there was fear that they would be left behind in the efforts to safeguard populations. There has also been speculation on the tiers of the different vaccines. The Chinese jab, although now approved by WHO, still has some raised questions as far as its efficacy is concerned. People remain unconvinced and are hesitant to get it despite hefty donations.

Pakistan was already in a precarious position as far vaccines that had not been bought; rather the mass inoculation drive was dependent on donations by other countries.  The arrival of aid from others has been a definite form of relief and is much welcomed.

A fact remains that in a time of great need, America has stepped up making it the world’s largest contributor towards developing countries such as Pakistan.

Vaccines that came via private channels have come at a cost. I do understand the reasons behind the opening up of private distribution channels in Pakistan. This was due to the fact the country was struggling in terms of donations during the first few months of this year. Unable to meet vaccination goals — the current government allowed vaccines to roll out through private channels to speed up the process. The viewpoint was that those who could afford it would buy it; which would leave the donated ones for the vulnerable population.

This was done as it was undetermined, at the time, if there would more donations coming in. However, the act of charging for a vaccine has been criticized. Global opinion still stands that vaccines must be free of cost.

Despite its efforts, Pakistan has only so far to date has only vaccinated 1 percent of its population. Many developing countries will not be able to meet the target goals of vaccinating the majority of their populations this year due to many constraints.

The COVAX initiative has been supported by not only governments but also by foundations, corporations, and organizations. The Gates Foundation is known to be one of the largest donors. In June 2020, it pledged $1.6 billion to GAVI over a five-year period and then, in August of the same year, it pledged an additional $150 million to help with distribution. 

The vaccines distributed by COVAX, all with the benevolence of countries and initiatives who donated, have given the hope of a global alignment that envisions one world standing united. The compassion shown by the world leaders to those countries struggling has been a huge gesture in terms of humanity and kindness.

The writer is known for her articles on social impact.

This article first appeared in Daily Times. Click here to go to the original.

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