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Disparities in global vaccination rates pose serious questions for ethicists

COVID-19 vaccine and global distribution
Global vaccine distribution poses serious problems [shutterstock]

As the covid-19 pandemic remains a very real, but declining threat here in the United States, it continues to rage in other parts of the world.

In places likes the U.S., Britain, Israel, Germany and France, authorities are providing additional Covid-19 vaccines with the goal of bolstering immune systems, as well as rebooting economies.

But in many less-industrialized and poorer nations governments are struggling to distribute their first round of doses.

Looking around the globe at the disparity in numbers the divide is staggering.

Most African countries are still registering less than a 10% vaccination rate; Kenya at 7% vaccinated, Ethiopia 3%, Nigeria 2.9%, Sudan 2.7%. As of a few weeks ago, Burundi, with nearly an identical population to Ohio; had not recorded a single person receiving the vaccine.

Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan are around 30% of their populations; people there thus far receiving only one dose.

Healthcare workers, ethicists, as well as governmental officials around the world say that these disparities raise serious questions about how the COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed. Particularly how 3rd round of booster shots are be given out in the industrialized west, while the rest of the world is struggling to inoculate the populous.

Today on the program, we discuss this moral dilemma. Here in the U.S., should we be eagerly accepting the vaccine if it's available, or should we be pushing for those doses to go to other places?

Stick around - as later in the hour, I talk with a city planner who's goal it is to run every street in the City of Cleveland.

Finally, another edition of Shuffle - with WKSU's Amanda Rabinowtiz. She highlights Dave Grohl Alley, an homage to the Warren, Ohio native, and recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

- Sharona Hoffman, Professor, Department of Bioethics, CWRU School of Medicine & Co-Director, The Law-Medicine Center, School of Law

- Michelle Medina, MD, Interim Chair of Community Care, The Cleveland Clinic

- Phil Kidd, City Planner & Runner “Every Street Cleveland"

- Amanda Rabinowitz, Host and Producer, 89.7 WKSU

Drew Maziasz is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and also serves as the show’s technical producer.