Bill and Melinda Gates warn pandemic could unleash ‘immunity inequality’

Bill and Melinda Gates wrote in their 2021 Annual Letter published Wednesday that they are concerned the pandemic will create “immunity inequality,” where only the wealthiest people have access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Already, wealthy nations have spent months prepurchasing doses of vaccine to start immunizing their people the moment those vaccines are approved,” wrote Melinda Gates. “But as things stand now, low- and middle-income countries will only be able to cover about one out of five people who live there over the next year. In a world where global health is local, that should concern all of us.”

The billionaire philanthropists argue that vaccine inequity will ultimately cause the pandemic to persist, creating new clusters that will inevitably result in fresh outbreaks.

“Demanding an inclusive response will save lives and livelihoods now — and create a foundation for a post-pandemic world that is stronger, more equal, and more resilient,” they wrote.

Their sentiments echo that of World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who last week lambasted vaccine manufacturers for appearing to prioritize getting their vaccines to wealthier countries. During the WHO’s weeklong executive board meeting, Tedros lamented that one country, had only received 25 doses of the vaccine while some countries had pre-purchased more than enough for their entire population.

President Biden’s nominee for surgeon general, Vivek Murthy, has also addressed the vaccine inequity being seen in the U.S., acknowledging that rural communities and communities of color have been especially affected by the pandemic.

In order to expand vaccine distribution, Biden has announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will begin establishing up to 100 community vaccination centers in the next month.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 23 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in the U.S. so far, with more than 44 million doses distributed.

Tags Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates Coronavirus COVID-19 vaccine Melinda Gates Vivek Murthy

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