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A look at vaccine inequality, in light of the Omicron variant

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With the emergence of the new Omicron variant of COVID-19, attention has turned to vaccine inequity between developed and developing countries. The variant was first detected in South Africa, but it’s unknown where it originated from.

Here are the double-dose vaccination rates in the nine countries Australia has recently banned travel from:

South Africa – 24.36%
Namibia – 11.81%
Zimbabwe – 19.03%
Botswana – 20.37%
Lesotho – 26.93%
Eswatini – 21.74%
The Seychelles – 79.7%
Malawi – 3.19%
Mozambique – 11.36%

The COVAX scheme – a global vaccine distribution agency designed to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to every country – aimed to deliver two billion doses by the end of the year. It is behind on this target. So far, only 537 million vaccines have been delivered.

The World Health Organisation last month appealed to G20 leaders to help increase vaccine supplies for “the world’s poorest countries”. 

“The current vaccine equity gap between wealthier and low resource countries demonstrates a disregard for the lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable… Vaccine inequity is costing lives every day, and continues to place everyone at risk,” it said.

Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown, writing for The Guardian said on the inequality: “Despite the repeated warnings of health leaders, our failure to put vaccines into the arms of people in the developing world is now coming back to haunt us. We were forewarned – and yet here we are.

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