Pacific countries will feel the effects of COVID-19 for some time, with experts predicting millions across the region will bear the brunt of vaccine hoarding, lack of funds, and supply shortages, resulting in a demi-decade-long wait to receive the vaccine.
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the research and analysis division of the Economist Group, forecasts that rich nations will be able to vaccinate most of their populations much earlier than others, with countries like Vanuatu, Timor-Leste and Fiji having to wait the longest.
The EIU's recently published Asia Coronavirus Vaccine Timeline predicts that Tonga, Samoa, and New Calendonia will achieve widespread vaccination — where over 60% of the population is vaccinated — by the end of 2023, alongside other Asian nations Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Philippines.
Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, and Fiji will not reach the milestone until 2025 and beyond.
Meanwhile, wealthy Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are expected to hit the goal by the end of the year.
An interesting analysis by @Imogen_PJ outlining the vaccination timeline ahead for Asia. We continue to believe that several #pacificislands will be among the last to get access to the vaccines.— Divya Sangaraju (@divya_sangaraju) January 18, 2021
Full article available herehttps://t.co/hpP9ovlC0Apic.twitter.com/vKUha8Hniz
Low-income Pacific countries depend mostly on a vaccine allocation plan known as the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility, or COVAX, for their vaccines.
The plan pools funds and resources from developed and developing countries and aims to supply 2 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses by the end of the year. In doing so, COVAX seeks to ensure that 92 low- and middle-income countries that cannot afford to secure and fund vaccines on their own receive equitable access.
Despite the scheme, vaccine nationalism — where wealthy nations stockpile doses for their citizens — has already occurred in the past few weeks, prompting World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to deliver a strict warning Monday.
"COVAX was designed to avoid hoarding, a chaotic market, an uncoordinated response, and continued social and economic disruption," he said, according to ABC. "Not only does this 'me-first' approach leave the world's poorest and most vulnerable people at risk. It's also self-defeating."
Dr. Tedros added: "Ultimately, these actions will only prolong the pandemic and prolong our pain.”