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Experts on the importance of vaccinating low-income nations

A person receives a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus disease vaccine at the Cacovid isolation centre, Mainland, Infectious disease hospital, Yaba, in Lagos, Nigeria.

Majority World | Universal Images Group | Getty Images

LONDON — With fears over “vaccine nationalism” steadily becoming a reality in 2021, experts have highlighted to CNBC why it’s in everybody’s interests to make sure adequately supplied inoculation programs are rolled out across the globe.  

“Low- and middle-income countries have had the challenge of getting vaccines because of the phenomenon of vaccine nationalism. Most of the developed countries have a lot of the vaccines,” Dr. Faisal Shuaib, CEO of Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency, told CNBC last month.

Whereas high income nations have purchased more than 4.6 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines, low income countries have bought 670 million doses, according to data from the Duke Global Health Innovation Center.

And while many western economies, such as the U.K. and the U.S., hope to vaccinate the vast majority of their populations in the coming months, some countries might not be able to achieve that before 2024, according to the same institution.

“So, if we are going to eradicate Covid-19 as one global community than it is important that every community has access to these vaccines. The virus doesn’t know any borders,” Shuaib said.

Health concerns

Economic consequences

“The world economy is also interconnected and even countries that have responded fairly effectively to this virus like New Zealand or South Korea have suffered grievously in economic terms from this pandemic,” Thomas Bollyky, director of the global health program at the Council on Foreign Relations, told CNBC.

“That will continue to be the case, if this virus is raging in much of the world,” he said.

The International Monetary Fund had initially forecast a 3.4% rise in global output for 2020. But shortly after the pandemic hit, early in the year, the IMF cut its projection to a contraction of 3%, predicting it would be the worst economic shock since the 1930s.

In more recent calculations, the IMF estimated that global economic activity in fact fell by 3.3% during 2020, with the chances of an immediate recovery in 2021 threatened by renewed waves of infection and further mutations.

“The main weapon we have are vaccines,” IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath told CNBC on Wednesday.

“We are seeing virus mutations happening and for as long as many parts of the world remain unvaccinated, you are going to see many more of these mutations and that is a big concern for the global economy,” she said.

International cooperation

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