The development of vaccines against the COVID-19 pandemic has brought hope among the global population to get back into normal lives. Individuals of economically backward countries like Nepal also had a confidence that they will have equal access to vaccination as like the citizen of big economies/powerful states capable of its production and distribution in this situation of humanitarian crisis. But this anticipation did not work in reality. The Vaccine manufacturing countries remained questionably self-centered while supplying/donating the vaccines that the surplus vaccines expiring within their territory but not been supplied to the needy countries.
Being in the United States, I got an opportunity for COVID-19 vaccination; I got two shots of Moderna Vaccine very easily and it is available for anybody, anywhere in this country. But the situation in my country is completely different; the new variants of COVID-19 are badly hitting South Asia; India, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka where the rate of vaccination is very low. The new variant of COVID 19 called Delta Variant is found very infectious and lethal. Hospitals and health centers were overloaded with the COVID-19 patients, scarcity of oxygen supplies and other health equipment made the situation worse.
The government of Nepal used the previously used technique of lockdown; preventing movement and gatherings of people by restricting transportation, shutting down the market, and suspension of international and domestic flights. This lockdown was helpful to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 infections but it could not mitigate the consequences brought by COVID-19; poverty and hunger among daily wage labors working in the cities, people are dying of poverty along with the disease.
The government of Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka were promised by India the supplies of Vaccines. Nepal received 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from India. Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka had also made a pre-payment to India for 5 million doses. But the government of India stepped back from this transaction by describing the internal crisis of the country, they will not be exporting the vaccines for the next six months. Almost a million people including my parents got the first dose of AstraZeneca vaccines supplied by India 3 months ago, and are waiting for the second dose which is totally uncertain.
These countries; allies of India are now helpless regarding vaccination, they either have to wait for the response from India or depend upon the slowly progressing global vaccine sharing COVAX program. China could be a potential supplier of the vaccines in our region, but South Asian countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh are hardly in the priority of China as compared to the other east Asian countries. China is maintaining its courtesy of a good neighbor supplying some Vaccines and some health equipment, but it does not seem to resolve our vaccine deprivation.
US government under Biden’s administration has promised to supply 80 million doses of vaccines globally by the end of June; 75% through COVAX and 25% for immediate needs and to help with surges around the world. Under this provision, Asian countries will receive 7 million doses out of the first tranche of 25 million doses and approximately 23 million doses in total. This number will hardly benefit 2 billion of the population of this region.
I had anticipation that the global community would have a single voice and joint/collective effort to combat this Humanitarian crisis through equitable access to vaccination for the people anywhere in the world, I do not have a logical humanitarian explanation behind the reason I was easily vaccinated in the USA, but my parents and my people in my country Nepal still have no clue, when they are getting theirs. Please be together and share your spare vaccines instead of letting them expired.
Posted By Prabal Thapa
Posted Jun 28th, 2021