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Red Cross leader says Omicron variant result of vaccine inequality

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: The Omicron variant is a result of vaccine inequality. (via Pixabay)

The head of the Red Cross pointed to the Omicron variant as the ultimate evidence that vaccine inequality around the world is a danger to every country globally. The president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said that much more work is needed to balance the inequality in the global approach to vaccination against the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to statistics gathered by the United Nations, while the global vaccination rate average in high-income countries stands at about 65%, the world’s poor countries have a vaccination rate of just over 7%. The World Health Organisation had previously spoken out about rich Western countries moving on to booster shots with the billions of vaccines they have produced and hoarded, instead of distributing them to low-income countries that desperately need inoculation against Covid-19.

The Red Cross president, Francesco Rocca, who is a lawyer and started with the Red Cross as a volunteer, says that the Omicron variant is the predictable result of vaccine inequality and slow global vaccination that gives Covid-19 the chance to adapt and mutate. The variant is severely mutated from the original strain of Covid-19 with 32 out of 50 mutations found on the spike protein that is the target of most vaccine methods, causing worry that current vaccines may not sufficiently fight the new strain. Omicron has spread quickly to close to 40 countries after first being identified in South Africa despite evidence showing it was present in Europe before the identification.

“The scientific community has warned… on several occasions about the risks of very new variants in places where there is a very low rate of vaccinations. This is a selfish approach coming from the Western community, this is really a blind approach. It’s unbelievable that we are still not realising how much we are interconnected. The only way is to vaccinate, so access for everyone, everywhere … This is why I call the Omicron variant the ultimate evidence. ”

Low vaccination in poor countries can rapidly spread new variants to wealthy countries, much like the common comparison of a peeing section in the swimming pool: Covid-19 doesn’t care about borders and income and will spread if vaccination rates are not high globally, not just in some countries.

And so, lack of vaccination and vaccine inequality has led to variants like Omicron that has thrown a wrench into global pandemic recovery and tons of travel bans, with fears it could spread quickly like the Delta variant, throughout Europe and the world.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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    Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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