Covid pandemic is a global problem that requires a global solution as 'beyond heartbreaking' crisis in India shows – Scotsman comment

As the UK government revealed it is developing a digital Covid vaccine passport for use by international travellers and Spain announced plans to allow tourists with one to visit from June, in India the healthcare system appeared to be on the brink of collapse.

The death toll has now risen above 200,000 and some seriously ill patients are continuing to go without oxygen or even a hospital bed.

So far, only about ten per cent of India's population of 1.4 billion have received a single dose of vaccine, in stark contrast to the UK figure of about 65 per cent.

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Describing the situation in India as “beyond heartbreaking”, the World Health Organisation’s director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said the international health body is “doing everything we can” to help, but its ability to do so is limited by the resources made available by members states.

The contrasting situations of the world’s poorest and wealthy countries have been crystal clear for some time. As people in the West ponder foreign holidays in the sun and a return to normal, those in the developing world are dying in their thousands every day – some in truly appalling conditions.

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The problem which should by now be obvious to everyone is that vast numbers of new Covid cases dramatically increase the chance of new genetic variants of the virus that could render our vaccines less effective or, potentially, completely ineffective.

Worryingly, new and apparently more infectious variants are thought to be part of the reason for the sudden spike of cases in India.

A health worker inoculates a man with Covid vaccine in Prayagraj, India (Picture: Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP)

As the international Covax programme, which aims to help poor countries to vaccinate their citizens, makes clear, “nobody wins the race until everyone wins”.

“Global equitable access to a vaccine, particularly protecting health care workers and those most at risk, is the only way to mitigate the public health and economic impact of the pandemic”, it says.

The Covid pandemic is a global problem that requires a global solution – for the sake of our lives and our livelihoods. Until that is found, we are deluding ourselves if we think this crisis is coming to an end.

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