Global disparity in access to essential vaccines, according to WHO report

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The limited supply and uneven distribution of vaccines means that low-income countries constantly struggle to access the essential inoculations demanded by richer countries, according to the latest Global Vaccine Market Report, released Wednesday by the World Health Organization. Health (WHO).

It is the first to examine the implications of COVID-19 for vaccine markets and highlights the disparity in access around the world.

The report says that the way the global market is not fully conducive to the development, supply and access to essential vaccines, with some regions almost entirely dependent on others for vaccine supply.

“The right to health includes the right to vaccines,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, adding that the report “shows that free market dynamics are depriving some of the poorest and most vulnerable people. of the world of that right”.

The WHO is calling for much-needed changes in vaccine distribution “to save lives, prevent disease and prepare for future crises.”

Although manufacturing capacity around the world has increased, it remains highly concentrated. Just ten manufacturers provide 70 percent of vaccine doses, excluding those for COVID-19.

Several of the 20 most widely used vaccines, such as pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and human papillomavirus (HPV), measles and rubella vaccines, currently rely primarily on two providers.

Concentrated manufacturing risks shortages as well as regional supply insecurity.

In 2021, the African and Eastern Mediterranean regions relied on manufacturers based elsewhere for 90% of their vaccines.

Limited vaccine supply and uneven distribution drive global disparities, according to the WHO.

The HPV vaccine against cervical cancer has been introduced in only 41% of low-income countries, despite bearing much of the disease burden, compared to 83% of low-income countries tall.

Affordability is also a barrier to access to vaccines.

Although prices tend to be tiered by income, price disparities mean that middle-income countries pay as much, or even more, than wealthier ones for various vaccine products.

Last year, approximately 16 billion doses of vaccines were supplied, worth $141 billion, representing almost three times the 2019 market volume of 5.8 billion and almost three and a half times its market value of $38 billion.

The surge was primarily driven by COVID-19 vaccines, demonstrating the incredible potential for how vaccine manufacturing can be scaled up in response to health needs.

WHO calls on governments, manufacturers and partners to take ambitious action to ensure equitable access to vaccines and improve responses to future pandemics.

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