Jan 19, 2021 - Health

Global vaccine inequities raise concerns of persistent spread in developing world

Illustration of syringe in the earth

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The unequal global access to coronavirus vaccines is raising concerns that the virus will be left to spread and dangerously mutate in some parts of the world, Bloomberg reports.

What they're saying: "We cannot leave parts of the world without access to vaccines because it's just going to come back to us," Charlie Weller, head of vaccines at health research foundation Wellcome, told Bloomberg. "That puts everyone around the world at risk."

The big picture: While wealthy countries are roughly a month into their vaccination campaigns, many countries have yet to begin.

  • High-income countries have secured the vast majority of Pfizer's vaccine, and all of Moderna's. A large portion of the world will be reliant on other vaccines.

Meanwhile, new variants of the virus are already emerging, including at least one that appears to be significantly more transmissible.

  • If the virus continues to spread, more problematic variants could emerge — including ones that would require adaptations to current vaccines.
  • "We now understand it's also very, very important to control transmission ... not just to protect those most vulnerable populations, but also to reduce the evolutionary risk associated with this virus," Rajeev Venkayya, president of Takeda Pharmaceutical's vaccines business, told Bloomberg.

Go deeper: The coronavirus variants: What you need to know

Go deeper