Covid 19 Vaccine : Poor Countries are Oppressed by Rich Country? - by Sabrina Sharif

3rd May 2021

Corona Virus or Covid-19 disease that shook the world in December 2019 originated from Wuhan, China, and persists until today. It will recover but take some time. A Muslim married couple from German has successfully invented the Covid-19 vaccine. Dr Ugur Sahin and Dr Ozlem Tureci created the Covid-19 Vaccine using their own research company, namely BioNTech and cooperate with Pfizer. The Pfizer vaccine reported a 90% efficacy rate before it was marketed to the world.

In 1918, the Spanish Flu, known as the influenza pandemic, attacked the world. It was a particularly deadly influenza pandemic caused by the H1N1 influenza A virus. From February 1918 to April 1920, it infected 500 million people, which is about a third of the world's population at the time in fourth successive waves. As both the Spanish Flu and Covid-19 exhibit similar symptoms, the control measures method for both viruses is wearing a face mask, social distancing and quarantine.

The end of any pandemic depends on numerous factors such as the capability of the country to provide adequate training of specialist and governance stability. A wise man said that knowledge is very limited to the 'western world', and we do not know how this epidemic played across the world. Some academicians agree that the end of the Spanish Flu pandemic occurred in 1920 when the society collectively developed an immunity to the virus.

The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Malaysia, YB Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar, mentioned a lack of cooperation between ASEAN countries in the aspect of obtaining access to Covid-19 vaccines. If such cooperation exists, it is likely to accelerate the vaccine procurement among ASEAN members. There is a lack of solidarity and coordination among ASEAN countries to formalize a mechanism to evaluate the Covid-19 vaccines for acceptability and suitability usage among the ASEAN community. Thus, stronger cooperation needs to be developed to ensure that the less developed countries like Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar can obtain the vaccine quickly.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo slammed the actions of rich countries that restricted the supplies of the Covid-19 vaccine. According to him, sufficient vaccines must be distributed to all countries if they want to end this pandemic. The virus has spread globally, not only present in rich countries but also emerging countries.

Over 700 million doses of vaccine supplies have been distributed globally, with most given to the developed countries such as those in European Union (EU). However, there are a few countries within the EU that are still considered emerging countries. Thus, it is reported the EU has restricted vaccines to several rich countries, including the United State and the United Kingdom as they need more vaccines to make sure all their citizen will be vaccinated. Due to the shortage of vaccine in some of the developed countries in the EU, it is directly impacting the availability for the emerging countries to procure an adequate amount of vaccines.

The World Health Organization (WHO), through the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) initiative to supply vaccines to mainly emerging countries but faces difficulties in obtaining sufficient funds. As emerging countries have a much more stable finance and GDP, WHO is putting a greater emphasis on prioritizing emerging countries over poor countries. However, WHO is aware of the importance of assisting the poor countries in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and has started distributing vaccines

WHO stated the Covid-19 would possibly end earlier than the Spanish Flu if all countries cooperate in the vaccination plan, whether they are developing or less developing countries. Among the things that developing countries can do is work together to help more emerging countries in the same region facilitate the process of procuring the vaccine.

So, has rich countries oppressed poor countries in the issue of getting this Covid-19 vaccine? In my opinion, it is not about oppressing each other, but every country has to work hard to get vaccines instead; all countries need to cooperate and synergises a mechanism to overcome this pandemic issue by strengthening the law enforcement of vaccines that used to be distributed all over the world. As such, rich countries should assist the less developed countries and be more proactive to ensure that all countries are not far behind in dealing with this Covid-19. WHO must address this issue positively in order to secure the world's survival.



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