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“Vaccine apartheid” and neoliberalism are hitting both Indian and Brazilian people
As is usual when covering developing countries, mainstream media do not spare horrific images of the Covid-19 crisis in India or Brazil, so as to make people in rich countries realize how well off they are in that respect. In comparison, that is. India and Brazil share deep inequalities and policies that have neglected public health
Such reports do not dig very much into underlying issues, ranging from domestic mismanagement by neoliberal-oriented governments, to “vaccine apartheid”, by which the United States and other Western nations have hoarded tens of millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses they may never use and the raw materials needed to make them as India becomes the epicenter of the disease.
Concerns are rising that an explosive outbreak in India, which recorded more than 400,000 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, raises the risk of new virus mutations that could threaten the entire world.
We’re concerned by the worsening #COVID19 situation in India & Brazil. It highlights the infrastructural challenges & inequities in the healthcare systems. We’re offering support to our partners as we can. Our work on #CHD health systems strengthening is critical & will continue. pic.twitter.com/TtRQd3kkiP
“Eighty percent of the deaths are due to the medical negligence here. What I have realised is, we could have saved them. They were in hospital and they did not get the proper care that they wanted because of the lack of oxygen, lack of medicines, lack of injections, people are dying here,” says Nishant Wadhwan, relative of COVID-19 victim in Mumbai.
In Brazil, the upper house of Parliament opened an inquiry on president Jair Bolsonaro, for possible “crimes against humanity” in his handling of the pandemic. Like India, the Brazilian government has given priority to keeping the economy running, rather than applying strict restrictions to avoid mass contagions.
Bolsonaro has gone so far as calling those who want to stay at home “cowards,” and threatening to send in the army to prevent federal states and cities from locking down to protect their population.
“There are those responsible and those who are guilty of action, omission, negligence or incompetence. And if that is proven, they will be held responsible. This will be the answer to reconnect ourselves with the planet. The crimes against humanity never expire and are transnational,”, said senator Renan Calheiros, the Commission’s rapporteur.
Meanwhile, the US-led Western states have been under mounting criticism for exercising so-called vaccine nationalism and not helping India, which has usually supported Western causes.
The US said last week that it will help India by sending items needed to manufacture vaccines as part of an aid package but has so far not delivered on its promise. India is battling a devastating second wave of the virus, whereas the country’s new vaccination drive was hampered in some areas by shortages of the shots.
Several Indian states have run out of coronavirus vaccines amid a surge of new cases in the country.
The United States has hoarded millions of COVID vaccine doses despite growing calls by international health experts for a coordinated global vaccine effort to tackle the pandemic.
The US is “sitting on 35-40 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine Americans will never use,” Brown University School of Public Health's Ashish Jha was quoted as saying by The Indian Express on Monday.
The UK has bought an extra 60 million vaccines as a reserve, Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced. By Sunday almost 50 milion of Britain’s 66.6-million population had received at list one shot.
According to a Bloomberg report, an overwhelming majority of vaccines has been distributed in the richest countries that are vaccinating their citizens at a pace 25 times faster than the lowest income countries.