Covid vaccine: More than three out of five in Scotland have been inoculated compared to three out of 100 in low-income countries – Dr Gwenetta Curry

As students have returned to schools and university students complete their first week of courses, everyone has been keeping a close eye on the number of Covid-19 cases.

Children aged 12 to 15 are now being vaccinated against Covid in Scotland and England (Picture: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Currently, that number is continuing to decline and vaccination rates are increasing, which indicate we are gaining control of the pandemic. According to the Scottish government’s daily data report on Tuesday, there were 2,870 cases, down from over 7,000 cases a couple of weeks ago and more than three million people have received both doses of the vaccine.

As we prepare to enter the winter months, many families remain concerned with the potential impact that this virus will have during the cold/flu season.

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As history has shown, influenza can be just as deadly as Covid-19 and it will be important for there to be a successful roll-out of the flu vaccine this year.

Recent numbers have indicated that the number of Covid-19 deaths in the United States has surpassed the 1918 flu pandemic numbers, which occurred prior to the production of a successful vaccine and improved hygiene practices. As of Monday, the US death toll stood at 675,446 which is roughly the same as the number of American deaths from the 1918 flu pandemic, which killed over 50 million people globally.

While the UK has a significant way to go to match its Spanish flu death toll of more than 200,000, there remains concern for vulnerable populations.

Booster shots have been approved for frontline workers, vulnerable populations, and those who are over 50. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation said the move was needed amid concern about waning immunity ahead of winter.

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Other countries have implemented similar booster programs to protect ageing populations and, most recently, the US has announced that the vaccine is safe from children under 12.

In the coming months, they will begin offering the vaccine to children between the ages of five and 11. Albert Bourla, chairman and chief executive of vaccine manufacturer Pfizer, said: “Since July, paediatric cases of Covid-19 have risen by 240 per cent in the US – underscoring the public need for a vaccination”.

Other European countries, for example France, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy, have all begun to vaccinate children. So far, the UK has not approved the distribution of the Covid vaccine to children under 12 and only those with underlying conditions between the ages of 12 and 15 can currently be vaccinated.

Although there have been major efforts to increase vaccinations in wealthy countries; low and middle-income countries remain under-protected as they do not have adequate access to the vaccine.

Despite an abundance of discussion around vaccine equity, this has not produced significant results.

According to the United Nations Development Programme, as of September 15, 60 per cent of the people in high-income countries have had at least one dose of the vaccination compared to three per cent in low-income countries.

Vaccinating 70 per cent of the population in high-income countries requires healthcare spending to increase by 0.8 per cent, compared to 56.6 per cent in low-income countries. The disparities in vaccine access and affordability will continue to have a devastating impact on our ability to prevent further mutations of the virus and the number of deaths.

Dr Gwenetta Curry is an Edinburgh University lecturer on race, ethnicity and health

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