The thing about the sheer rapidity of the COVID omicron variant spread not only creates a challenge in identifying positive cases (testing shortages), but the race to pace initial vaccination (pre-booster 2-step series) and to distribute the first FDA EUA oral antivirals also produces near certainty in vaccine and treatment inequities ahead.
Just 8.6 percent of the 1.3 billion people across Africa, for instance, are fully vaccinated, a status that does not include boosters. By comparison, nearly 62 percent of the United States’ population of 330 million is fully immunized — and more than 60 million booster shots have been given out. ”Omicron is a prime example of why we need to ramp up global vaccination efforts — not just providing vaccines, but also ensuring barriers to distribution and getting shots in arms are addressed and overcome,” Saskia Popescu, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Arizona and George Mason University, said in an email. “It’s not enough just to send several million [doses to lower-income countries], but also provide resources (people, storage, vehicles, educational resources, etc.) to ensure they are meeting the end target — equitable vaccine distribution globally,” she continued.