…as countries are likely to administer boosters

Staff Writer

The countries that relied on Chinese shots may need to administer boosters or mix different brands of vaccines, a new report shows.

Businesses worldwide have been affected by the slowdown in economic activity due to the Covid-19 induced lockdowns. The situation saw researchers rushing to find Covid-19 cure. For pharmaceuticals, there is suddenly only one priority: the coronavirus.

Since the start of 2021, China and Russia have sent hundreds of millions of coronavirus jabs to emerging countries as part of a “vaccine diplomacy” operation, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

EIU’s, latest report ‘How much will vaccine inequity cost?’ revealed that countries like Chile which mostly used China’s Sinovac vaccine are now administering boosters while Thailand mixes different brands of vaccines.

Eight months after they started, EIU said, the results of these operations have been mixed.

“Despite aggressive media campaigns highlighting Russia’s commitment to coming to the rescue of developing countries, Russia’s vaccine diplomacy has, to date, been a failure,” it said.

It revealed that production difficulties have delayed the delivery of second shots of the Russian-developed Sputnik V vaccine, fuelling resentment in local populations. In Argentina, these delivery delays have led to a bitter diplomatic row between the two governments.

“In addition, a lack of transparency over clinical data, and doubts around the quality of some batches of the vaccine (in Slovakia, for example), have increased hesitancy towards the (to date, non-WHO approved) Russian-made vaccine.”

EIU acknowledged that China’s vaccine diplomacy has been a success. Despite its huge population, China is on track to reach 70% immunisation by the end of 2021 while at the same time becoming the world’s largest exporter of vaccines.

“However, this impressive feat comes with a warning for those countries that depend on Chinese vaccines: some of these shots appear to offer lower levels of protection than Western jabs,” stated EIU.
“The Seychelles, which had vaccinated the majority of its population with China’s Sinopharm vaccine, had to re-impose a lockdown in June.”

While some people have raised concerns about the safety of vaccines, a number of doctors and other healthcare workers in government and private institutions have already been fully vaccinated. The Covid-19 vaccines that have been approved are generally considered to be very safe – even if the efficacy, especially against evolving strains of the virus, may not be fully known.

Zimbabwe is targeting to inoculate a total of 10 million people or 60% of the population to achieve herd immunity by end of the year. The southern African nation recently received the consignment of one million Sinovac Vaccines it bought from China.

 “The lower efficacy rate of Chinese vaccines poses two risks,” it said.

For the countries which have used Chinese vaccines, EIU said, the total vaccine bill may prove higher than expected—and in some cases unaffordable.

“The second has to do with vaccine passports; most Western countries do not recognise inoculation with Chinese jabs. This will hinder travel, further widening the divide between richer and poorer economies.”’

EIU has developed a model that indicates that those countries that will vaccinate less than 60% of their population by mid-2022 will register GDP losses totaling US$2.3trn in 2022-25.

“Emerging countries will shoulder around two-thirds of these losses, further delaying their economic convergence with more developed countries,” it said.

In absolute terms, Asia will be by far the most severely affected continent with cumulative projected losses of US$1.7trn. As a share of GDP, countries in sub-Saharan Africa will register the highest losses totaling 3% of the region’s forecast GDP in 2022-25 – Harare

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