Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth has said Covid-19 vaccines should be ‘distributed fairly’ amid fears that some parts of the world might be left behind in the dash for coronavirus immunity.
Mr Jugnauth says world leaders should ensure that no countries miss out on the crucial vaccines once they are approved for use and for governments to continue coordination efforts the World Health Organisation.
He comments: “The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the inequalities that exist amongst nations and this is nowhere more evident than in the area of having fair and equal access to safe, effective, and affordable COVID-19 vaccines.
“Access is key to changing the course of the pandemic and help those countries experiencing catastrophic economic and fiscal impacts to move toward a resilient recovery. We call for global leadership and coordinated response to ensure that any approved vaccine is distributed equitably.”
Around 150 vaccines against Covid-19 are currently in development around the world but three have emerged as the front runners in the race for immunisation: Pfizer/BioNtech, Oxford University/AstraZeneca and Moderna.
Initial trials for all three have shown promising results but there is still a long way to go before they are given the green light.
Even with an accelerated timetable the first doses will not be available until the end of the year at the earliest and then only to a limited amount of people in countries who have placed orders for the vaccines.
Widespread vaccination is unlikely to happen until the second half of 2021 and then the question is how will less wealthy nations fare in the race for the vaccine with experts predicting lower and middle-income countries might not get mass immunisation until 2022.
The island nation of Mauritius has already pre-ordered vaccines for 20 per cent of the population which will go to the country’s front-line staff and those most vulnerable to the virus.
Mauritius has a population of around 1.3 million people, many living in densely populated areas, but due to an early lockdown and strict quarantine measures managed to reduce the impact of Covid-19 to just 478 cases and 10 deaths.
Speaking at the closing day of the fifth edition of Qatar Foundation’s WISH 2020 summit, Jugnauth told attendees how Mauritius contained the virus thanks to a multi-layered response including a strict regime of PCR testing, 14-day quarantine, isolation and treatment as part of the government’s containment strategy.