When it comes to taking prompt action against a public health crisis, the UAE has led by example. As soon as the cases of the novel coronavirus began to emerge last year, the country imposed strict lockdown and other social distancing measures and opened in a phased manner. Towards the end of 2020, it launched a nationwide campaign to inoculate frontliners and health workers. The current immunisation drive is among one of the fastest in the world with millions of residents and citizens already being inoculated. The UAE has now taken a step further by launching the Vaccine Logistics Alliance, an initiative that is aimed at speeding up the distribution of the novel coronavirus vaccines around the world.
The alliance, which was launched under the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will address the logistical and distribution challenges faced by many emerging markets in the wake of the pandemic. It will collaborate with pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and transportation entities to enable a smoother inoculation programme. A key player will be International Humanitarian City, one of the world’s largest hubs for humanitarian logistics, that will partner with Emirates Sky Cargo to facilitate vaccine distribution.
The Alliance has been formed in the wake of a global concern about an uneven distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine across the world. On one hand, many public health experts have been warning against rich countries being supplied vaccines in bulk, leaving developing countries in a more vulnerable spot. As per an academic study commissioned by the International Chamber of Commerce, with the developed countries aiming to vaccinate their populations by the middle of 2021, poor countries will not only be shut out, this pattern may also lead to losses worth $9 trillion to global economy.
An even distribution of the novel coronavirus vaccines then serves economic interests as well, particularly those countries that are heavily reliant on trade, as the pandemic has disrupted lives of millions of low-wage workers in developing countries who play a vital role in production of key piece parts of various industries. This is a class that cannot afford the luxury of working from home but has to actively participate in the production process. On the other hand, the European Union has unanimously expressed its disappointment over the shortage of Pfizer vaccines and AstraZeneca’s contention of only being able to distribute less than what was anticipated earlier, with some countries even threatening legal consequences.
In this scenario, the UAE’s Vaccine Logistics Alliance offers hope for a more equitable distribution. It’s a move that sets a precedent for many other countries to take the lead in the vaccine distribution programme not only in their own backyard but also beyond it, giving more vulnerable populations a chance at receiving the shots.
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