On Wednesday, November 9th, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report highlighting an evident inequitable vaccine distribution and its limited supply. The shocking part was that it was not unique to the COVID-19 vaccines, with poorer countries consistently struggling to access vaccines that are in demand by more developed nations.
The COVID pandemic further drove vaccine inequalities in lower-income and less-developed countries struggling to access crucial vaccines. This is the first report to capture the implications of COVID-19 on global vaccine markets, including the cervical cancer vaccine.
According to the global health agency, vaccines such as the human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV) for cervical cancer has only been introduced in 41% of low-income countries. This goes against the data showing that they represent much of the disease burden, compared to 83% of high-income countries with similar figures for other vaccines.
In this regard, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, argued that the right to health includes the right to vaccines. Still, according to this report, the free market dynamics deprive some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people of that right.