Distributing COVID-19 vaccine around the world fairly without letting the rich countries corner the limited doses is going to be a big challenge, the World Health Organisation’s Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Wednesday.
On vaccine development for the novel coronavirus, she said: “By early 2021, we should have some good news. Then, there is the big challenge of being able to scale, distribute and allocate fairly around the world without letting the rich countries corner the limited doses," Swaminathan said.
She made the comments while addressing the valedictory of the XV international conference on public policy & management hosted by the Centre for Public Policy at Indian Institute of Management Bangalore in a virtual mode, according to an IIMB statement.
But India is in a good position because many companies are working on vaccine development, either on their own or in collaboration, she said, adding, the country is a manufacturing hub for vaccines. The pandemic has exacerbated inequalities, and it has proved to be a learning opportunity to improve resilience and strengthen public health systems, according to her.
The focus needs to be on global collaboration when dealing with the virus diagnostics, therapeutics, behavioural and mental health concerns, transmission, vaccine development, and how the disease impacts children (learning, cognitive development) with schools being shut, the statement quoted her as saying.
“The mortality rate is not going up in the second wave of the pandemic. This is probably related to demographics and other factors we do not yet know why South Asia and Africa have lower mortality rates than Europe and the Americas," Swaminathan said.