The Unspoken COVID-19 Vaccine Challenges — Distribution and Corruption

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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Mbaama Millicent Marian, a Ghanaian who lives and schools medicine in Ukraine. She is currently in her 3rd year at Sumy State University.. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


A year on from the first known case of COVID-19, the world has been hungry for good news. Recently, vaccine makers have provided welcome nourishment which turns out culminating into an astronomical increase in theft, corruption, weaponizing vaccines all in the name of distribution.

Vaccine distribution poses a daunting challenge and is accompanied by questions such as who are the right people, what is the right vaccine, what is the right time? Planning for vaccine distribution and the identification of vulnerable populations need to be transparent to ensure that access is equitable and that citizens understand who will receive vaccines and who won’t. Transparency is key to ensure that access or lack of access is not used to the detriment of marginalized populations or to foster political patronage — something that we’ve seen happening already in Bangladesh.

Whilst most vaccines have little street value, initial limited supplies of a COVID-19 vaccine compounded by a likely high demand from anxious populations will make it a target for theft and diversion. Add to this the real risk that vaccines will become a new weapon with which powerful states attempt to wield geopolitical influence. Over 30 countries have already expressed interest in receiving the Russian Sputnik V vaccine. The vaccine was approved by Russia in August, prior to phase 3 trials in a move criticized by some as hasty and motivated by nationalism rather than science.

The ACT Accelerator and the COVAX Facility, however, have been laying the groundwork for the equitable distribution and deployment of vaccines. COVAX is designed to ensure there is equitable access to vaccines globally; High Income Countries and Low and Middle Income Countries alike.

“40 years ago, a new virus emerged and sparked a pandemic. Life-saving medicines were developed but more than a decade passed before the world’s poor got access to them. 12 years ago, a new virus emerged and sparked a pandemic. Life saving vaccines were developed but by the time the world’s poor got access, the pandemic was over. One year ago, a new virus emerged and sparked a pandemic. Life-saving vaccines have been developed. What happens next is up to us”. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said in his opening remarks at the 148th session of the Executive Board on Monday, 18th January, 2020.

He added “We have an opportunity to beat history; to write a different story; to avoid the mistakes of the HIV and H1N1 pandemics”.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/eclinm/article/PIIS2589-5370(20)30418-1/fulltext

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03334-w

https://www.who.int/director-general/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-148th-session-of-the-executive-board

About the author

Mbaama Millicent Marian is a Ghanaian who lives and schools in Ukraine. She is currently in her 3rd year at Sumy State University.

Marian is differentiated by an uncommon complement of topical issues around the globe combined with proficient writing and debating acumen which allows her to identify and understand complex issues, taking action and drive results which is a primary part of her signature offering.

Presently, Marian serves as the Union Historian for the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS), Ukraine.

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