Should Australia Be Giving Covid Vaccines To Countries That Don’t Have Enough?
Would you be willing to give up your Covid vaccine so that someone else could have it first?
Australia has already secured way more doses of Covid vaccines than we need for our population, but some developing countries don’t even have enough to vaccinate their health workers.
Experts overseas have warned that the only way to fully combat the pandemic is through a global effort. So, should Australia be giving some of our vaccine doses to countries that don’t have enough?
Australia’s Position And Plan With The National Vaccine Rollout
Australia is in a ridiculously good position for the Covid vaccine rollout that’s set to start at the end of February.
The government has already secured enough doses to vaccinate our entire population three times over, and the plan is to roll out vaccines to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.
Four million people could have had a vaccine by the end of April and the entire population, or at least the people who choose to have it, could be vaccinated by the end of the year.
But some experts think Australia shouldn’t be in such a hurry to vaccinate absolutely everybody right away, and that’s because of how well we’ve dealt with Covid here.
Economically, Australia is already out of the recession Covid caused.
Sure, our international borders are still closed, and there are a lot of Australians who are still feeling the impacts of the pandemic.
But our case numbers are significantly lower than most other countries in the world, and the argument of these experts is that a lot of people here don’t actually need the vaccine right now.
What We Could Be Doing Instead?
Dr. Peter Collignon (ANU): “So my view is: while we keep good control of the virus and don’t have community spread, we should allow vaccines to go to high risk groups in other countries where the virus is running rampant.”
This idea doesn’t mean that Australia’s most vulnerable groups – like the elderly and healthcare workers – shouldn’t be prioritised, or that they should be denied a vaccine.
And it’s not suggesting that we don’t vaccinate any young people at all.
It’s just that given how well Australia is faring with the pandemic, could we maybe afford to delay our vaccine rollouts, and even donate a portion of our supplies to countries that need it more urgently than us?
Take Norway for example. Right now, for every dose of vaccine they use on their population, they give another dose to countries in need.
Australia really, is in a position to do something similar.
We have the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine already being manufactured in Victoria, so if we did suddenly see a surge in case numbers, we could literally make more doses ourselves.
And given that we’re still gathering data about the efficacy of these vaccines – in different demographics and against new virus strains – by not rushing, Australia also has a chance to make sure our vaccine rollout is the safest it can be.
PC: “We don’t have to rush vaccination because we don’t have a health emergency like North and South America, like India like Europe. So we can afford to wait, do it properly, make sure everybody’s trained, so we don’t waste the vaccine.”
Australia’s COVAX Responsibility
But there’s a bigger, more ethical question here. How much responsibility is Australia willing to take on in combatting Covid-19 globally?
It is after all, a global pandemic.
Australia was one of the countries to sign something called the COVAX agreement, which pretty much makes sure all countries get fair and equitable access to vaccines.
We’ve even donated 80 million dollars to the cause of equal access.
But despite COVAX, there is still criticism that wealthier countries are prioritising vaccine manufacturing and access for themselves.
Perhaps (given how well we’re doing with Covid) this is an opportunity for Australia to go above and beyond on our promise to provide global aid.
Ultimately, it’s really in the world’s best interest to get absolutely everyone vaccinated.
Just because Australia is a rich country, it doesn’t mean we should be at the front of the queue, especially when there are millions of people who might need these vaccines far sooner than we do.