Science

COVID-19. Poor countries ask billionaires for help against Omicron

“I call on the billionaires of this world to help Africa and South Africa to control and eradicate variants. Only by protecting the poorest and most oppressed can we save the world.” This allegation is not for anyone: it is about Dr. Tulio de Oliveira, who discovered and made public the Omicron variant. Low- and middle-income countries continue to wait for rich countries to share vaccines and the means to treat Covid-19. So much so that they turn to the richest people on the planet.

The impact of the pandemic reinforces inequalities between countries. Vaccination is the main weapon against the spread of the virus, but on a global scale it is not equal or equitable: for 100 people, rich countries have 147 doses, poor countries 7. More than 66% of the population of rich countries is vaccinated, compared to just 2.5% in poor countries.

G20 countries monopolized vaccines

Each state takes care of its own as a priority. However, the increasingly virulent variants arise from countries where the vaccination rate is low, less than 25%. “More than 9 billion vaccines have been produced. We should reach 12 billion by the end of the year. Which would be enough to vaccinate the entire world!” Alarm Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister and Ambassador of the World Health Organization (WHO). The problem is in the distribution, which is unfair. The G20 countries have accounted for 89% of the vaccines and 71% of the production to come. “

Rich countries launched the Covax initiative in June to redistribute surplus vaccines to poor or developing countries. “The United States delivered only 25% of promised vaccines, the European Union 19%, the United Kingdom 11%, says Gordon Brown. However, 500 million unused doses are currently available in the G7 countries. 100 millions will expire in December. We will destroy some while people die. “

Researchers no longer believe in state aid

In the face of such disinterest, it is not surprising that doctors and scientists are going through other means. The requests are multiplying. Tulio de Oliveira appealed to Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, as well as to charities and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). But the researcher is not addressing any state organization, such as the United Nations for example.

Tulio de Oliveira is not overwhelmed by the answers. If Bill Gates did not react, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, however, has published several reports on the impact of the pandemic. And it is already acting on the ground. The IMF issued an alert on the link between undervaccination and poverty, noting in particular that as of mid-November, only 4% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa was vaccinated.

Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos prefer their rockets

Elon Musk has already been at the center of Twitter discussions with the United Nations. On October 31, after the publication of an article stating that 2% of Musk’s fortune could reduce world hunger, the Tesla boss asked the World Food Program (WFP) “if they can test me on Twitter how $ 6 billion could end world hunger. I will sell Tesla stock for that purpose. ” Not one or two, the WFP director responded with a detailed plan, not to eradicate the problem but to feed 42 million people. For now, Elon Musk has not responded or sold shares.

As for Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder gives pride of place to the upcoming commercial flight of his space shuttle Blue Origin over the global situation.

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