'Poorer countries will need support to receive and store vaccine'
Louise Greenwood
Europe;United Kingdom


Wealthier countries will have to provide support to more disadvantaged parts of the world in the distribution of the new Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine due to the costs of delivering and storing it, said Sian Griffiths, emeritus professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

"We must remember this is a global disease and that low-income countries in particular will need the support of high-income countries," Griffiths, who co-chaired Hong Kong's SARS inquiry in 2003, told CGTN.

"This vaccine has logistical challenges, because it needs to be kept at minus 70 degrees Celsius and in lower- and middle-income countries, you really won't have those facilities, or in rural areas you won't have those facilities, so it is quite complicated to make this distribution."

This week, a 90-year-old UK woman, Margaret Keenan, was the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech injection after regulators approved its use in Britain last week. About 70 hospital hubs in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are dispensing the jab, with priority being given to those aged over 80 and some key health and care staff.

It is the biggest vaccination program in British history but Griffiths is worried that poorer people globally might not get access to the jab.

"At the moment, we need to concentrate on getting this vaccine to as many people as possible to ensure the most vulnerable are vaccinated and we start to think about how this can be done on a global basis," she said.

"As we have more choice, we will probably find that the decisions are made by government, not by individuals, because it will be about supply, demand, logistics ... all those issues that are so complicated in this massive and very ambitious program."

Source(s): Reuters

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