Unequal vaccine access will return to haunt the rich

Unequal vaccine access will return to haunt the rich

As developed countries race to roll out Covid-19 jabs, poorer nations fear they are missing out

As rich countries race to dispense Covid-19 vaccines, poorer nations have a fear of missing out. The UK has inoculated more than 4m people while South Africa, which has also been severely struck, has yet to administer a single non-trial dose.

Guinea has barely any vaccine at all: as of January 18, just 25 shots — enough for two dozen “senior officials” and the president. So much for equality.

This uneven start is causing alarm. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation, has called it a “catastrophic moral failure”. It was wrong, he said, that “younger, healthier adults in rich countries are vaccinated before health workers and older people in poorer countries”.

That is over-egging it. In the UK, which got off to a flying start, almost half of the people over 80 have not yet received their first jab. In a controversial policy, the government is withholding the second dose for up to three months in an effort to get at least some vaccine to as many people as possible. Few young, healthy Britons, other than healthcare workers, have yet received a dose.