Raising the share of vaccines donated by rich countries to poor and developing countries to 46% could reduce both deaths from Covid-19 and the risk of the appearance of new variants: this is indicated by a mathematical model published in Nature Human Behavior by researchers of the University of Hong Kong. The study is accompanied by an editorial and eight other articles signed by public health officials, intellectual property experts and activists calling for greater equity in access to vaccines in order to stop the pandemic waves.
“Covid-19 is a collective problem that selfish actions will not solve”, underlines the editorial, commenting on the unequivocal data emerging from the Hong Kong study. Researchers led by Qingpeng Zhang and Daniel Zeng made five-year projections to see how inequality in access to vaccines could be reflected in the trend of the pandemic, taking into account the evolution of the virus and global mobility.
The results show that the advantages for rich countries would only be in the short term: after a rapid decline in mortality forecast for the first year, in fact, there would then be an increase in the risk of new waves of infections due to variants that could develop in the Poorer countries by extending the duration of the pandemic globally. On the contrary, greater equity in access to vaccines could reduce mortality even in the poorest countries and counter the spread of new variants for the benefit of all.
The editorial then urges institutions and health authorities to engage in new scenarios of global cooperation. “The worst of Covid-19 will pass, but there will be more health crises. Will we have to renegotiate a new Covax program all over again? Will we have to debate again about giving up intellectual property rights? Does the world need cooperation mechanisms that can keep up? the spread and evolution of a virus, a pre-negotiated framework agreement for the distribution of vaccines, tools and know-how “.
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