RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – There will be more variants.
COVID-19 will continue to try to beat us at our own game until we are the better player.
“No one is safe until everyone is safe. The more people who don’t have access to the vaccine the more chances there are for variants and mutations to arrive,” said Emily Janoch, director for Knowledge Management and Learning for CARE USA.
While about 55 percent of the world’s population is vaccinated against COVID-19, poorer nations have dismal numbers.
“We need to change that. It’s just not going to be sustainable. We’re going to continue to chase our tails if we don’t have many more people across the planet vaccinated,” said Dr. David Wohl at UNC Health.
Ethiopia and Nigeria sit at just more than one percent while Kenya is around 5 percent vaccinated.
South Africa is higher but still less than a quarter has received the shot. Pakistan and Bangladesh are both just above 22 percent.
Bangladesh is improving as they’ve started to provide mobile clinics. That effort managed to vaccinate 8 million people in one day.
The non-profit CARE is working to get vaccines to people in poorer countries with low vaccine rates where new variants are more likely to surface.
So far the organization has aided in getting 126 million shots in arms. But they can’t do it alone.
“We have to think as a whole world because we already have the problem as a whole world. Pharmaceutical companies need to make sure vaccines are available to everyone who needs them and they need to be thinking about how they get them locally and how do they get to the last mile. Simply producing them is not enough,” said Janoch.
Medical experts are on the same page.
“You need equity and this helps us all to vaccinate more people across the world so yes totally agree this is a failure on many many levels,” said Wohl.
There are other challenges beyond logistics.
Just like here at home, access is one thing and trust is another.
Janoch said “how do you encourage people to get the vaccine and how do you make it possible for them to trust the vaccine? They understand what it is, they know how it works and they know they’re going to get something that works for them.”
For them, and for everyone else on the planet earth.