Bill Gates calls inequitable worldwide access to COVID-19 vaccines a ‘public health tragedy’

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Dr. Onimbo Kerama, Principal Advisor and Executive Director of Motire Occupational Health and Safety Solutions in Thika, Kenya, uses the LumiraDx diagnostic tool to test for COVID-19. (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation photo)

As people in the United States debate the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, a new report from the Seattle-based Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a reminder that many people around the world still can’t get the shot, even if they want it. be.

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“The lack of equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines is a public health tragedy,” says Bill Gates in a statement accompanying the release of the Gates Foundation’s annual Goalkeepers Report. United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for the last five years.

The latest report, released Monday night, was written by Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates as co-chairs of the foundation. He continues to lead the Gates Foundation in those roles for a two-year trial period following the divorce.

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COVID-19 is a central theme of the report, which cites “unprecedented” development of many vaccines in less than a year, versus the typical timeline of 10 to 15 years. Also, the report states that more than 80% of the COVID-19 vaccines so far have been administered in high-income and upper-middle income countries.

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Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates write in the report, “Some have achieved more than two to three times the number of doses needed to cover their population, if faster infectious forms require boosters.” “Meanwhile, less than 1% of the dose has been administered in low-income countries. These inequalities are a profound moral outrage – and raise the very real risk that high-income countries and communities may see COVID-19 as another pandemic of poverty. Will start assuming as: not our problem

Bill Gates warned repeatedly last year about the risk of uneven vaccine distribution as vaccines were being developed.

“We cannot leave the pandemic behind until everyone, regardless of where they live, has access to vaccines,” he said in his statement issued with the Goalkeepers’ latest report.

The Gates Foundation has committed nearly $1.7 billion over the past 18 months to efforts to fight COVID-19 and distribute vaccines globally.

According to the figures cited in the report, an additional 30 million people fell into extreme poverty over the past year, reversing many of the recent gains. In addition, the report outlines the impact of the pandemic on education and gender equality around the world.

Mark Suzman, CEO of the Gates Foundation, told reporters in a conference call that now is not only the time to address current inequalities in COVID-19 vaccines, but also to be future-ready through initiatives like genomic surveillance that cut across countries. to do also.

Suzman cited the need for “global rather than national and regional infrastructures that ensure we never face a crisis like this again.”

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