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Low-income countries would add KSh4.1 trillion to their GDP, were it not for vaccine inequity

Low-income countries would add $38 billion (approximately KSh4.1 trillion) to their GDP forecast for 2021 if they had the same vaccination rate as high-income countries.

According to the new Global Dashboard on COVID-19 Vaccine Equity, global economic recovery is at risk if vaccines are not equitably manufactured, scaled up and distributed.  

Without urgent action to boost supply and assure equitable COVID-19 vaccine access for every country, World Health Organisation (WHO) says, will have a lasting and profound impact on socio-economic recovery in low- and lower-middle income countries.

The data released Thursday, July 22 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), WHO and the University of Oxford insists that the vaccine equity includes through dose sharing.

“At a time when richer countries have paid trillions in stimulus to prop up flagging economies, now is the moment to ensure vaccine doses are shared quickly, all barriers to increasing vaccine manufacturing are removed and financing support is secured so vaccines are distributed equitably and a truly global economic recovery can take place,” says WHO.

WHO is worried that a high price per COVID-19 vaccine dose could also put a huge strain on fragile health systems and undermine routine immunisation and essential health services, causing alarming spikes in measles, pneumonia and diarrhea.

“In some low- and middle-income countries, less than 1 per cent of the population is vaccinated – this is contributing to a two-track recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic”, says UNDP Administrator, Achim Steiner. “It’s time for swift, collective action – this new COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Dashboard will provide Governments, policymakers and international organisations with unique insights to accelerate the global delivery of vaccines and mitigate the devastating socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.”

According to the new Dashboard, which builds on data from multiple entities including the IMF, World Bank, UNICEF and Gavi, and analysis on per capita GDP growth rates from the World Economic Outlook, richer countries are projected to vaccinate quicker and recover economically quicker from COVID-19, while poorer countries haven’t even been able to vaccinate their health workers and most at-risk population and may not achieve pre-COVID-19 levels of growth until 2024.

“Vaccine inequity is the world’s biggest obstacle to ending this pandemic and recovering from COVID-19,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO. “Economically, epidemiologically and morally, it is in all countries’ best interest to use the latest available data to make lifesaving vaccines available to all.”


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