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OP-ED: Rich country, poor country

  • Published at 01:31 am December 21st, 2020
covid-19 vaccine
Representational image Bigstock

The discrimination in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines worldwide must be stopped

We are witnesses to history because 2020 is a year we will never forget. A dreadful, devastating year that has scarred us in so many ways. It has had a devastating impact on countries’ economies, health, education, society, and employment. Covid-19 has fissured and destabilized our society, and exposed our failure to build a fair and equitable society. 

The coronavirus has also shown us our weakness: A failure to focus on upholding human rights.

Recently, several pharmaceutical companies announced that they had finished the Stage III trials of vaccines, and they had shown promising results. It’s good news for the world because, without a vaccine, it’s impossible to prevent the coronavirus from spreading. However, is it good news for all countries or all people?

Rich nations have already bought and are hoarding half of the vaccines even though these countries represent just 13% of the world’s population. 

About 52% of these vaccines have been bought by countries and regions such as the United States, the UK, the EU, Australia, Hong Kong and Macau, Japan, Switzerland, and Israel.

The remaining 2.6 billion have been bought by or are assured to emerging countries, including India, Bangladesh, China, Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico. Where are the other countries, those that have been left behind in this rat race?

Canada and the UK recently joined an international initiative to help allocate the vaccine more equally around the world and to help transport the vaccine to countries that can’t produce or buy it themselves. The US hasn’t joined the agreement yet. 

World leaders have taken steps to distribute a vaccine named COVAX, mainly with aims to have 2 billion allocated doses available by the end of next year. 

In this high-risk race for the development of a potential coronavirus vaccine, commitments to meeting human rights obligations and transparency have largely been absent. 

In the end, we’re heading into a situation where the rich countries will have vaccines, and the poorer countries will be less likely to have the same access.

Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10. The theme of this year’s Human Rights Day was declared to be related to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, they focused on the need to build back better by ensuring that human rights are central to recovery efforts.

The post-Covid-19 situation will be more crucial for the world. And we will reach our common global goals only if we can create equal chances for all to receive vaccines and address the failures that have been exploited by Covid-19.

According to article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every human being has the right to a standard of living, adequate medical care, necessary social services, and security in the event of joblessness or illness. According to this declaration, the priority is the human being. 

We can’t discriminate between rich and poor countries because everyone has the right to life and better health. Without proper distribution of the vaccine, it’s impossible to tackle Coved -19. Medical care and sickness protection are the biggest priorities.

There are many agreements related to vaccine distribution, but in real life, it is absent. Some nations have no proper facilities or pharmaceutical infrastructure to develop vaccines themselves. We would do well to follow the slogan for this year's theme: “Recover better.”

Sajib Hossain is an independent researcher at the Daily Our Time and also an apprentice lawyer at the Judge Court of Bangladesh. Aruna Bala is an independent researcher at the Daily Our Time and also an apprentice lawyer at the Judge Court of Bangladesh.

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