Lost Opportunities and Lessons for the Future- Article by Amy Farzana Ma’am

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 as a pandemic, the worst in this century. From the Black Death in the 14th century, the Spanish Flu in 1918, the HIV /AIDS discovered in the US in 1981, and the SARs virus, to the Swine Flu in 2009, a probe into the earlier pandemics reveals that Covid-19 is far more infectious than any pandemics humanity has experienced. The Covid-19 virus has claimed the life of more than 6 million people.

Governments rushed to implement lockdown measures to contain the spread of the virus. This was only undertaken as a short-term measure as the negative effects could be seen in countries at a faster rate. The domestic production fell, with supply chains being greatly disturbed due to immobility or retrenchment of labor. The only other effective method, and permanent solution would be the use of vaccines. Upon this realization, governments, private agencies, and vaccine manufacturers rushed to join the race of rolling out vaccines.

This rush was not without reasoning. It has been found that, with the current global high inter-linked international trade linkages, the negative costs accruing to the world economies will be much higher than that of the pandemics of the earlier centuries. Research findings show that advanced economies with greater vaccine coverage but with trade linkages with low-income countries with least vaccine coverage was bound to suffer more. The advanced countries had more necessity-based innovation, production, trials and roll out of vaccines in record time. Government expenditure in the health care systems increased to a greater extent as the cost benefit analysis showed that the health costs averted, and productivity gains were higher.

For instance, in the case of EU countries of Italy, Spain, and France, were severely affected by the covid pandemic. Unparalleled financial commitments in these countries to meet the increased demand for medical equipment, resources and personnel was observed. This was done to increase the resilience of the healthcare system and to provide universal health coverage. The vaccine strategies were similar in these countries and varied according to the supply of doses. UAE and Israel ranked among the top ten countries in the adoption and administration of vaccines in the world. Israel secured all the doses needed for its adult population with an early agreement with Pfizer. UAE is the first Arab country to begin the production of a Covid-19 vaccine, Hayat-Vax, in collaboration between Sinopharm CNBG and Abu Dhabi’s G42. This is accompanied by the Covid-19 contact tracing app functioning as its National Vaccine Registry. According to UAE ‘s Ministry of Health and Prevention, our dosage rate was much above the world vaccination rate.

Accordingly, it was evident that the cases and the death rates in UAE show much lower rate than other countries. In contrast, India on the other, though had produced and supplied vaccines to other countries, the vaccine strategies did not produce similar results, owing to the inequality in distribution and administration. The differences in the vaccination strategies led to various kind of economic recoveries in the growth of the economies, ranging from V shaped, U shaped, L shaped and K shaped recoveries.

Various lessons could be drawn for governments and healthcare systems, agencies, vaccine producers in the process of covid management which lays the path for future policy makers of the world that would help them prepare for future pandemics.