HORE, ZIMBABWE (AP) – When three-year-old mother Amanda Wood learned of the availability of hundreds of corona virus vaccines for teenagers in Toronto, one thing prevented her from rushing to the vaccination site at a local high school: her 13-year-old daughter was afraid to inject. Wood later told Lola: If you get vaccinated, you can see your friends again and you can play games. Lola, coveted by the promise of a normal teenage life, accepted.
In Zimbabwe, a world away from Canada – more than 13,000 kilometers (8,000 miles) – the challenges in the struggle to achieve herd immunity go even further.
Andrew Nangvenya recently sat outside his home in a working-class city in the capital, Harare, reflecting on how he and his family can be saved from COVID-19. Nangvenya and his wife D-Ekma went to a hospital, which sometimes had a dose. A few hours later, less than 30 people were vaccinated. Nangvenya, a parent of four, returned home wanting to be vaccinated.
“We’re ready to get it, but we can’t access it,” the family’s father said. “We need it, where can we get it?”
The stories of the Wood and Nangwenya families reflect a completely unequal world, divided between those with and without vaccines, those who can imagine a world beyond epidemics, and those who can only expect months and perhaps years of illness and death. .
In one country, the initial setbacks in the fight against COVID-19 were overcome by money and strong public health infrastructure. Another is poor planning, lack of resources and failure of a global mechanism aimed at sharing some of the available quantities, leading to a shortage of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as oxygen tanks and safety equipment.
With at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in 70% of its adults, Canada has one of the highest immunization rates in the world, and is now continuing to administer immunizations to children, reducing their risk of dying from the corona virus.
In contrast, in Zimbabwe, only 9% of people are vaccinated against the highly contagious delta variant of corona virus outbreaks that were first detected in India. Millions of people who are vulnerable to COVID-19, including the elderly and those with basic medical problems, face immunizations as public authorities implement more control measures.
Nangwenya said the crowd of people trying to get vaccinated is a threat. “This route is about 5 kilometers (3 miles). Even if you are eager to get vaccinated, you cannot afford it. Once you see the line, you should not try again, ”he said.
In Canada, vaccines are not always plentiful. Without the national production of the COVID-19 vaccine, the country would have started slowly, with vaccination rates lagging behind Hungary, Greece and Chile. Canada is the only G7 country to have been vaccinated in the first round of covax births, according to the UN. It is an attempt to distribute supported drugs primarily to poor countries.
After investing more than $ 400 million in the project, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada’s goal is to get vaccinated through Kovacs. Kovacs said the saffron vaccine alliance also plans to provide “insurance policy” to rich countries if they do not have enough.
The most recent shipment of COVAX to Canada – about 655,000 vaccines from AstraZeneca – arrived in May, and about 60 countries were sidelined when supplies from this initiative were reduced to a minimum. For example, Bangladesh waited for Kovacs to provide about 130,000 vaccines for its Rohingya refugee population; Quantities never came after the Indian supplier stopped exporting them.
UN Dr. Prahabat Jah, head of global health and epidemiology at the University of Toronto, said Canada’s decision to obtain vaccines through a support effort was “morally reprehensible”. He said Canada’s first response to COVID-19 was to miscalculate the need for control measures, including aggression communication tracking and border controls.
“Without Canada’s purchasing power to buy vaccines, we would be in a worse position now,” he said.
A few weeks after the Kovacs vaccines arrived, more than 33,000 doses were still in warehouses in Ottawa, and they bought hundreds of millions of doses after health officials advised Canadians to choose the Pfizer-BioNTech or Modern vaccines.
Wood children received the Pfizer vaccine. When Canada started vaccinating children 12 and older, Wood – who works with children in the entertainment industry – and her building husband did not hesitate.
According to Wood, his sons, who are avid athletes, could not play much hockey, football or rugby during the lockout. Lola misses baking lemon bread and chocolate chip cookies with her grandmother, who lives three blocks away.
“We felt we had to do our part to keep everyone safe, the elderly safe, the economy back on track and the children going back to school,” he said.
In Zimbabwe, the situation is not expected to return to normal any time soon, with the situation likely to worsen at first. Nangwenya is concerned about government threats to ban public services to unannounced people, including transportation.
Although nearly one million COVID-19 vaccines have been assigned to Zimbabwe by COVAX, none have been delivered. The combination of the amounts they purchased and donated – 4.2 million – includes Chinese, Russian and Indian vaccines.
Official figures show that 4% of the country’s 15 million people are currently vaccinated.
According to the World Health Organization, less than 2% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people are now fully immune, making Zimbabwe a success story in Africa. Meanwhile, the virus is spreading in rural areas, where the majority of the population lives and health facilities are poor.
Nangwenya, a part-time pastor at the Pentecostal church, said he and his church would return to the faith to fight the corona virus, but many agreed to be vaccinated first and then pray.
“All human beings are afraid of death,” he said. “People are dying, we see people dying. This is real.”
Report from Cheng London. Lori Hinnant, a journalist with the Associated Press in Paris, contributed to the report.
“Devoted music specialist. Student. Zombie trailblazer. Internetaholic. Food geek.”