We thought the year 2021 will be a year of hope after last year’s pandemic outbreak. This year will indeed be a year when a vaccine is rolled out around the world but there is a catch. According to the People’s Vaccine Alliance – a coalition including Oxfam, Amnesty International and Global Justice Now – just one in 10 people in dozens of poor countries will be able to get vaccinated against the coronavirus because wealthy countries have hoarded more doses than they need.
The Alliance said that the rich nations have bought more than 50 per cent of the total stock of the world’s most promising vaccines, despite being home to just 14 per cent of the global population. According to the Duke Global Health Innovation Centre, the current models predict that there will not be enough vaccines to cover the world’s population until 2023 or 2024. This is quite worrying. Pakistan, too, has yet to procure the vaccines.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health Dr Faisal Sultan told Dawn that Pakistan’s target is to procure the vaccine in the first quarter of the current year, and “we are confident of doing so. But it is quite difficult to say on which date we will acquire the vaccine”. Reports indicate that apart from Chinese vaccines and the Oxford vaccine, Pakistan will also be relying on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX initiative, which insures “rapid and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines for all countries, regardless of income level”. Some government officials say that Pakistan did not have enough resources to place orders initially for vaccines. It is understandable given that Pakistan’s economy is already struggling.
The lesson to learn from this pandemic is that countries like Pakistan must invest in science, technology and medical/health research. If we do this, we would be able to work on our own vaccines and manufacture them in the future. Healthcare is one of the top priorities of the current government. The government must step up and invest in research related to healthcare so that it helps Pakistan in the future. Coronavirus may have been a once-in-a-century pandemic but there will be new health emergencies that we could face in the future. Thus, it is important to invest heavily in research because the future is all about scientific research and development.