Facts About COVID-19 Vaccine Inequity and the Failure of Healthcare Delivery Logistics

Updated: Jun 17

The Secrets of Finding the modern solution to wasteful Vaccine usage and outdated Healthcare delivery Logistics quickly through Healthcare Without Borders (HCWB)

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

According to a report published by Devex, less than 1 in 10 people in Africa are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, that is despite only around 32% of the continent’s countries’ supply of COVID-19 vaccine have gone unused. In Nigeria, less than 2% of the country has been fully vaccinated for COVID-19. The governments in several African countries have confirmed that one million doses from donors have expired and will now be destroyed. In April, the Democratic Republic of Congo said it would return 1.3 million amounts that the country had received from the vaccine-sharing initiative COVAX after determining it couldn’t administer them before their expiration date. Burundi has vaccinated the lowest proportion of its population of any country. So far, less than 1% of over half a million doses of COVID-19 vaccines it has received have been administered.

Reportedly the donated vaccine shelf lives are too short to be administered efficiently in a short enough period before they expire. Therefore, countries that cannot deploy the donated vaccines are refusing to accept them, particularly those that come with a relatively short shelf life.

At the International Conference on Public Health in Africa, the African Center for Disease Control (CDC) announced recently that the center is asking countries to decline COVID-19 vaccines that could be rendered useless in a short span.

Wasteful vaccine usage is not exclusive to the African continent. Countries like Britain forecasted in 2021 that about 10% of vaccines went unused. Likewise, France’s health minister reported in April 2021, 25% of AstraZeneca, 20% of Moderna, and 7% of Pfizer vaccines were wasted.

Expectedly, the world has moved from a vaccine shortage to where people today receive over 20 million doses per week. Still, the accelerated supply seems to have encountered an infrastructure and logistic problem, including Vaccine storage, transportation, and misinformation, as well as shortages of syringes and health workers for widespread inoculation drives, are only a handful of the factors that can delay the administration of doses.

According to WHO, Africa falls very short of global vaccination goals due to the problem above. Therefore, The African continent isn’t expected to reach the average rate of complete vaccination across its populations that are over 40%.

The short shelf life of bestowed vaccines does not help African nations. Both desperate for doses, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo had to return some donated vaccines because they could not distribute them in a timely fashion. Recently, Namibia also warned it might force to destroy thousands of out-of-date doses. According to scholars, the situation serves only to increase vaccine inequality.

More than 8 billion doses have gone administered. That is the most extensive vaccination campaign in history, But we all know that this incredible achievement has been marred by horrific inequity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has of late delineated a Strategy to Achieve Global Covid-19 Vaccination by mid-2022. The report’s content imposes restructured infrastructure and logistics to ensure equity and quality of vaccination delivery into the arms of everyone. It must be in the context of integrated public health and social measures and must maintain inclusivity for those disadvantaged.

All individuals, populations, and countries should have equitable vaccine access without financial hardship; the vaccines used should meet international standards through WHO authorization. One should deploy vaccines with tests, treatments, and public health & social measures. Vaccination must include marginalized, vulnerable, displaced, and imprisoned populations.

The recent WHO recommendation is comprehensive and requires a fundamental update on the healthcare logistic capabilities both technologically and strategically.

Healthcare Without Borders (HCWB) is a healthcare delivery model I have introduced recently. The vision is based on the idea founded on creating a Healthcare system without Borders” (HCWB), where the patients play a fundamental role as the foundation of the healthcare system. That is an open, personalized arrangement that offers patients flexibility, convenience, option, and the independent small medical facilities turnkey medical service support. It creates a hybrid environment for healthcare delivery where all stakeholders can independently collaborate while enjoying the benefits of equity, integration, interoperability, and transparency.

To ensure a simple healthcare system that traverses beyond socioeconomic and geographical boundaries, we must accept and uphold that patients are the foundation of every healthcare delivery system. Merely because engaging patients in their care and providing them the necessary resources and options will ultimately fail to solve challenges like the Covid-19’s vaccination effectively, thus creating herd immunity.

Since physicians and other clinicians are at the other end of the doctor-patient relationship, it is critical to support the medical community with hands-on support and appropriate technologies. The comprehensive, integrated, multifaceted support can be divided into three pillars of HCWB. They comprise 1) physician support system, 2) point of the care system, and 3) remote or virtual encounter.

It is only after ensuring all aspects of the pillars are addressed before we realize that the technological and non-technological remedies will be effective, how, and to what extent.

It is coherent that the surplus vaccines from the developed countries be ideally distributed to the public in the underdeveloped countries. Still, these surpluses also come with a shelf life that is already nearer to expiration. It is also understandable that the donation without any strings and obligations cannot be subject to expectations on the part of the receivers. Nonetheless, robust healthcare delivery logistics based on the HCWB will distribute Covid-19’s vaccines equally and evenly and reduce the vaccine wastage purely based on timely dispensing. Furthermore, because HCWB is designed around the patient’s needs and expectations, more compliance with vaccinations is prompted.

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