According to Hon. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius, the equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines internationally, which now seem to be very much on the cards, must be prioritised in order to ensure optimum public health and safety, and to help restore tourism. This is what he told participants at the World Innovation Summit for Health during the closing day of the fifth edition of Qatar Foundation’s WISH 2020 summit.
Mauritius is hit hard by the loss of travel and tourism
Although the east African island of Mauritius hosts over 1.3 million tourists on average every year, and has a relatively ageing population, it was extremely successful in containing the Covid-19 virus, scoring a full 100 on the Oxford University Stringency Index, which tracks government policy and action with regard to Covid-19.
However, despite its success in protecting public health, the island has suffered economically: “With the drying up of international visitor numbers, in terms of both business and tourism,” Jugnauth said. And so, the focus must now turn to sourcing and distributing an effective Covid-19 vaccine that will help get people travelling again and help get tourism-dependent destinations like Mauritius back on their feet.
Equal access to Covid-19 vaccines key to travel recovery
However, as many experts across the world have noted, even with the potential rollout of new vaccines, the logistics of vaccinating billions of people means that there is likely still a long journey ahead; many still believe the world will not return to ‘normal’ again until next spring, winter or possibly even beyond that.
And then there’s also the issue of access; Jugnauth also made a point to highlight the global inequalities in access to safe, effective and affordable Covid-19 vaccines that exist among nations – an issue that has been further exacerbated by the financial hardship bought about by Covid.
He followed this up by commending collaborative and co-ordinated response efforts – such as the initiative developed by the World Health Organization and GAVI to develop a vaccine through the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility – that worked to provide all nations access to a safe, effective and affordable vaccine. “Such an access is key to change the course of the pandemic and help countries experiencing catastrophic economic and fiscal impacts, move toward a resilient recovery,” he said.