Difficult access to vaccines in poor countries, especially in Africa, and anti-vaccination movements in Europe and the United States are the main reasons for the current rise in the covid-19 pandemic, assessed in the column by former Health Ministers José Gomes Temporão and Luiz Henrique Mandetta.
In the emergence of the new strain of coronavirus in Africa, inequality is the central issue, believes Temporão, who headed the Ministry of Health in the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. “At the same time that the rich countries bought for their populations a quantity of doses much higher than those necessary, as if trying to make a strategic reserve, the rest of the world, mainly Africa, some Asian and Latin American countries were left without access to vaccines” , highlights it.
This happened, for the former minister, even after great efforts by the World Health Organization and repeated warnings from scientists that these countries with very low vaccination coverage would end up becoming potential “laboratories” for the production of mutant strains.
Mandetta, who was the first health minister under Jair Bolsonaro’s administration, also criticizes the inequality in access to immunization agents. “The world needs a new mechanism to allow large-scale production for pandemics that respects inventiveness, but allows access to the vaccine,” he suggests. “We are going to live with mutations that can become resistant until we apply two doses in a block to eight billion people. In other words, 16 billion doses”.
For the former minister of Bolsonaro, greed and the absence of global political leadership are “exposed fractures” in this pandemic.
Another important factor in the current rise in cases is the denial movement in the United States and Europe. “These are different situations: while there are countries that have doses to offer and part of the population refuses to receive them, on the other hand, there are countries that do not have access to vaccines because the solidarity mechanism does not work”, says Temporão. “No country in the world is going to feel completely safe until global vaccination coverage is close to eighty percent.”
In the case of American and European deniers, Temporão claims that the measure that should have been taken some time ago by the Brazilian government would be the requirement for a vaccination passport. “The European community and the United States are making this demand for Brazilians and we here should be doing the same”, he criticizes.
Mandetta also thinks that Brazil should require vaccination and testing before boarding. “Those without vaccine are clueless and without collective behavior”, he says.
He recommends preventive measures to prevent further damage from the new Ômicrom strain. “If it is transmissible at high speed, it will arrive here and we still have a significant number to complete the two doses. Brazil practically does not test, does not carry out isolation to identify strains and is not actively looking for vaccination”, he warns. “We have a good way to go.”
About the new strain, Temporão says that there are still many questions. “With each mutant strain that appears we have the same questions as when Delta appeared. These are still open questions.”