For equitable global access to the Covid-19 vaccine, the United States has donated $4 billion to assist the worldwide COVAX effort including support for ultra-cold chain storage, transportation, and safe handling of Covid-19 vaccines. Six other members of the G-7 countries have also rendered their helping hands in donating a mentionable number of Covid-19 vaccines for disadvantaged countries.
Soon after the availability of the Covid-19 vaccines in the US market, the Biden administration announced that as long as the deadly virus was spreading anywhere, it was a danger to the people everywhere, including the Americans. So, the US government is committed to donate 1.2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines around the world without any charge to assist global needs by the end of 2022.
However, the US is criticized worldwide for its Covid-19 vaccine monopoly like other affluent countries including the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, Japan, and South Korea.
Apart from the US, countries like the UK, Japan, Canada, India, Saudi Arabia, France, Poland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland donated Covid-19 vaccines to Bangladesh as a part of distributive justice and being development partners
Political and economic analysts in all over the world have been passing diverse comments on the US trends of the Covid-19 vaccine donation calculating the geopolitical and strategic issues but they cannot deny the omnipresent practice of the doctrine of distributive justice well acknowledged to address the gaps of Covid-19 vaccine divides between capable and incapable nations. It also replicates the much talked about principle of common but differentiated state responsibility between the rich and poor nations.
Apart from the US, countries like the UK, Japan, Canada, India, Saudi Arabia, France, Poland, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland donated Covid-19 vaccines to Bangladesh as a part of distributive justice and being development partners. Despite allocation, Lithuania refused to send 4.4 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Bangladesh when it abstained from voting against Russia condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The Covid-19 vaccine companies mostly in the US, UK, China, Russia, and India made billions of dollars as profits but declined to relax the patent policy for expanding the production of such vaccines to other countries despite repeated requests from the World Health Organisation. Due to economic constraints, poverty-stricken countries in Africa and Asia are facing disparity in affording Covid-19 vaccines to streamline their vaccine campaign.
According to Our World in Data, as of 25 April, 78.2 percent people have received at least one dose of Covid-19 inoculations, 70.5 percent people are fully vaccinated and 7.4 percent people has received booster jabs. The rate of vaccination in Bangladesh in South Asia third highest next to Bhutan and Maldives in covering the targeted 80 percent of the population. The cost of vaccination is more than US 2.3 billion in the country, although Transparency International of Bangladesh has raised allegation of corruption in the process.
First, second, and third waves of the Covid-19 pandemic have heartbreaking impacts all over the world and the division between haves and have-nots in terms of accessibility and affordability of medicines and vaccines render an imaginable but gruesome picture. As per recent data, a total of 29,127 people died of Covid-19 out of 1.95 million cases in Bangladesh while the grim statistics of 6.23 million of deaths worldwide.
Due to contribution of free donation of Covid-19 vaccines by rich countries to poor ones, the pace of vaccination has been escalated in poor countries. Bangladesh is lucky enough to receive the gifts of such vaccines from many countries especially from the U.S. But ironically, only 15.3 percent people in low-income countries have received at least one dose while 65.2 percent of the world population has received at least one dose. So, still there is lot of scope for the rick nations to contribute for poor ones. Considering the dire necessity of the Covid-19 vaccination, the affluent nations should render their economic hands for the least developed and poor countries so that they can administer the vaccination campaign smoothly expediting the concept of distributive justice.
Emdadul Haque is an Independent Human Rights Researcher and Freelance Contributor based in Dhaka. Reach out at [email protected] and on Twitter @emdadlaw