More than 90 million people around the world have received a coronavirus vaccine outside of clinical trials — but only 25 people total have in all of sub-Saharan Africa, a region of about one billion people.
That has set the stage for a “catastrophic moral failure,” in the words of Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO). But it is also a failure of self-interest for wealthier nations, as a hiccup in one country can quickly become a tragedy for everyone.
South Africa and the variant discovered there offer a powerful example. Recent research suggests that the highly contagious variant is less responsive to at least four vaccines. The variant is estimated to make up 90 percent of all cases in the country, and has quickly turned up in dozens of others, including the United States. The lesson here is that if the world fails to stop the spread in some areas, the virus will keep mutating in ways that could make all vaccines less effective, potentially leaving inoculated populations vulnerable once again.
Also read: Vietnam detects South Africa virus variant
“This idea that no one is safe until everyone is safe is not just an adage, it is really true,” said Andrea Taylor, the assistant director at Duke Global Health Innovation Center.
Even in the best-case scenarios, Ms. Taylor said, at the current rate of production, there will not be enough vaccines for everyone in the world until 2023. South Africa, which received its first shipment of vaccines today, has secured just 22.5 million doses for its 60 million people, and many nations lag further behind. At the same time, some wealthy countries have secured enough vaccine doses to inoculate their populations many times over, according to the NYTimes.
- Across Europe, public frustration with lockdowns is palpable, with pensioners protesting this weekend in Vienna, restaurateurs taking to the streets in Budapest and demonstrators clashing with the police in Belgium, prompting dozens of arrests. In the Netherlands, the authorities fined more than 10,000 people last week for violating the national curfew.
- The police in China arrested more than 80 people who they say manufactured and sold more than 3,000 fake coronavirus vaccines across the country.
- Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong are vaccinating their populations more slowly, an approach that has advantages as well as risks.
- Vietnam approves COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca as the country records many community-based coronavirus cases in a new outbreak.
Have you lost someone significant in your life to Covid-19? We are asking readers to share their stories and images of those they’ve lost for an upcoming feature on grief in the pandemic.
What you’re doing
After almost three months, I am still struggling with post-Covid anosmia. I have discovered that truffles are one of the few flavors my reduced taste buds can detect and enjoy. Last weekend I made an all-truffle dinner: chicken with a white wine truffle sauce, black truffle latkes and a green salad with white balsamic truffle vinaigrette. I reminded my husband that truffles are a known aphrodisiac. After dinner we sat down for a Saturday evening film, “Phantom Thread.” Two-thirds of the way into the movie, the character of Alma decides to teach Daniel Day-Lewis’s Reynolds Woodcock a lesson by feeding him a small dose of toxic fungi, making him violently ill but not killing him. “So why exactly did we eat all of those mushrooms tonight?” my husband chuckled nervously. Needless to say, it put a damper on the evening.
— Alison, Montana
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