Revealing the hidden value of vaccines (video)

Original article from Nature by Sabin Vaccine Institute

As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its third year and the Omicron variant looms, the consequences of inequitable global vaccine distribution and delivery weigh heavily. “It’s a disturbing reflection on the state of the world when the availability of potentially life-saving vaccines is divided between those that have a lot of it and those that don’t even have a drop,” says Muhammad Pate, a Harvard University public health expert, and former Global Director for Health, Nutrition, and Population at the World Bank.

In many lower- and middle-income countries, vaccine stocks are low, placing the jab out of reach for many eager to get it. In higher-income nations with ample vaccine supplies, vaccine hesitancy has set in. Cheryl Cohen, an epidemiologist at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, notes that South Africa now has ready access to COVID-19 shots, but as of late November, only 34% adults were fully vaccinated. “The challenge now is much more hesitancy than availability,” she says.

While there are many explanations for these situations, one is often overlooked: the concept of value. Whether for COVID-19 vaccines, or influenza, measles, and other illnesses, the global public health community has not agreed on a standard by which to value the total economic and social benefit of vaccines. Mark Jit, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, says that with COVID-19, “It’s very clear that the benefits of a vaccine are not purely health. They allow countries to relax some of these measures that have a big impact on the economy, but also on people’s ability to live normal lives.”


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