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Where are the vaccines?

Published on April 21, 2021

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While I’m here in the US, Ecuador is bracing for another possible shutdown, is struggling to get the vaccines it needs, and is seeing the numbers of new deaths from the virus rise to levels first seen over a year ago.

All the while, the US announced today that more than half of the country (age eligible) had now received at least one dose of the vaccine. And roughly 25% of Americans say they will not get the vaccine.

It’s hard to sit here and see a group of people say they won’t get the vaccine, when most of Ecuador is begging to have the chance.

Whether one agrees with the vaccine or not, the fact that Ecuador still has only received a very small percentage of the doses that it was promised is quite disturbing.

With that said, I came here to get mine. So, I’m part of the problem. I felt I had no choice because I could see that Ecuador was months away from getting enough doses that would cover the lower levels of its phased vaccination plan. Now, I think that the situation is even worse than I imagined there. I think the country will be lucky to get enough doses to have any chance at herd immunity before December.

The unfairness of this is one thing, but the senselessness of it is another. Because immunology does follow a few rules. One being that you cannot have countries obtain herd immunity in isolation.

Because the world is truly a global society now, and mobilization of that society means that the opportunity for the virus to travel always exists, several well-known immunologists are arguing that the entire world has to work toward immunity at the same time.

Now, that obviously has its challenges, since the number of doses required is so enormous. However, when one considers that half of the vaccine-eligible people in America have gotten it, one has to ask if it would have been possible to slow down that pace of inoculation so that other countries could also have a small share of the vaccine.

As of today, 212 million doses of the vaccine have been given in the US; last week they were given at a rate of 3.13 million doses per day.

Furthermore, enough doses have now been administered to fully vaccinate about 5% of the global population—but the distribution has been lopsided. Countries with the highest incomes are getting vaccinated 25 times faster than those with the lowest.

In fact, the 27 wealthiest countries in the world have received 38.6% of the vaccines, though they only account for 10.9% of the world’s population (e.g., the Seychelles have vaccinated 58.4% of their population). Before March, few African nations had received a single shipment of shots. In the U.S., 63.7 doses have been administered for every 100 people.

Ecuador has given 545,000 doses to 1.6% of its population. It is vaccinating 12,234 people a day. Granted, its vaccination program has not been well run. But the lack of vaccine was the major contributing reason for that.

These numbers speak for themselves. The question is whether anyone hears what they are saying, or if the world will continue to turn a blind eye to its less fortunate neighbors.

I hope it is the former and not the latter.

I’m just sayin.’

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