A syringe was filled with a dose of the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine in Los Angeles, the United States, on 7 August 2021. (Patrick T. Fallon – AFP/Lehtikuva)

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FINLAND has promised to donate approximately 3.6 million doses of coronavirus vaccines to developing countries during the course of this autumn through Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax), reports YLE.

The donation is only a drop in the ocean but important nonetheless.

“We’re striving to make progress day by day, month by month. It’s very likely that we’ll make a decision on additional donations before the end of this year because the situation here is already good,” commented Eija Limnell, a counsellor at the unit for human rights policy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

Ensuring the vaccine uptake increases also in other parts of the world is extremely important because as long as the virus continues spreading somewhere, the risk of the pandemic accelerating persists. Coronavirus vaccines have thus far been distributed very unevenly between advanced and less advanced countries.

“The situation is pretty hopeless in the poorest countries, especially in Africa. Many countries can’t afford to buy vaccines themselves,” Limnell said to YLE.

Meri Koivusalo, a professor of international health policy at Tampere University, reminded in an interview with the public broadcasting company that the pandemic affects all of humanity. Because it is a common threat, it necessitates a common response.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has estimated that the unequal distribution and, specifically, the hoarding of vaccine doses constitutes a violation of international rights.

“Every person has the right to health. If the vaccines are distributed very unevenly and some countries hoard them, it denies other countries the right to safeguard the health of their citizens in a way,” explained Koivusalo.

Covax was established with the primary goal of increasing the vaccine uptake to a minimum of 20 per cent in all countries of the world, initially to protect health care professionals and people who are at the highest risk of becoming seriously sick because of an underlying health condition. The donated vaccines are supplied to the 92 target countries directly from the manufacturing facilities.

The donations will have no impact on the pace of vaccinations in Finland, according to YLE. The country is in possession of surplus doses because of the procurement commitments made in the early phases of the pandemic by the EU.

Finland has additionally pledged 10 million euros to support Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The global health partnership is capable of acquiring vaccines at reasonable prices from manufacturers and donating them to less advanced countries.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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