If the COVID-19 pandemic has managed to prove one thing, it’s that the race to secure vaccines continues to be shaped and heavily influenced by Western imperialism and regional medical illiteracy.
It has been reported that approximately 3 billion people worldwide have either been injected with the first or both doses of the vaccine since its release earlier this year and Arab countries are still amongst the least vaccinated in the world.
Whilst many could point towards the initial lack of doses allocated to the Middle East and North Africa as the world continues to be monopolised by the Western world’s upperhand, a lot have also identified medical hesitancy in the region as a crippling factor that has repelled citizens away from vaccination centres. Regardless of the deterrent and despite great campaign efforts led by local authorities, the number of doses provided is still considered insufficient to provide the much sought-after herd immunity.
In 2019, the World Health Organization recognised vaccine hesitancy as one of main threats to global health security especially as immunity supposedly requires a faster carrying out of immunisation. Bearing this in mind, the region’s rates of vaccination continue to be amongst the lowest with countries like Syria still mirroring rates that do not exceed 0.6% of the population being vaccinated, followed by (from low to high):
Sultanate of Oman 16.7%
Countries in the gulf are the only exception to the ongoing rule having reflected vaccination rates almost as high, and sometimes even higher, as their European and Western counterparts. Harnessing the pandemic in a better way than its regional neighbours, this situation might be the much-needed wake up call for the rest of the Arab world to try and tighten its grip onto this ruthless pandemic without falling to dust.