People living in rich countries are already enjoying the collective benefits of the Covid-19 vaccination, while people in poor countries face uncertainties in the face of a protracted pandemic.
For already vaccinated Sheila Yogev who lives in Israel and Naiara Cother, a resident of England, life is starting to return to normal. With 15% of the world’s population, rich countries concentrate almost half of the available vaccines, and a third of its inhabitants have received at least one dose.
But Rosalito Guzmán from Guatemala and Tumi Motsoatsoa from South Africa are still hoping to get their turn in the vaccination line. In poor countries, the proportion of people who have received at least the first dose is only 0.2%.
Read their stories below on the impacts of global inequalities on vaccine access.
“ With vaccination, hugs are back ”
I was vaccinated in January. The health care system here in Israel is very efficient. Now anyone can get the vaccine, even 16-year-olds.
The vaccine made a big difference to me because now the hugs are back. My in-laws live next door and we are very attached to it. We spent a long time without seeing them, without hugging them.
We had very strict locks, you couldn’t even visit your neighbor, you could only go 100 yards from your house.
Now we have concerts, events, everything with less audience, but there are. The schools have reopened, I have returned to sports, the children have returned to football. The restaurants are open, but spaced between the tables and with entry only for vaccinated people.
Some things will remain even after the quarantine ends. Life has become simpler, less consumerist. National parks, which were once packed with people, are now scheduled to visit.
The problem is that in August, it will be two years since I saw my family because Brazil is going through this disaster. I wanted my parents to come, but the country is closed to Brazilians. I was unemployed for six months, but the financial problems are resolved. Distance is the worst of all.
Sheila Yogev, 47, tour operator and television producer, lives in Tzur Yitzhak, Israel, a country where 59% of residents have already been fully vaccinated.
“ Life should return to normal in June ”
I received the vaccine again last year, the second week of December, as a healthcare professional in England. My mother in Brazil is almost 60 years old and her turn has not yet come. Here are some people in their 30s vaccinating.
Last year I was asked to work at the Covid-19 ICU, it was very difficult. Now that has changed too much, we no longer have patients in the intensive care unit of the hospital. We have started having elective surgeries again, my work as an anesthetist is practically normal.
We keep locking, but they are opening more and more things. Everyone is in desperate need of going out, even in the cold, people used to go out to restaurants to meet friends. Now we can go to restaurants, travel to certain countries, go to each other’s houses.
It is feared that there will be another peak this summer due to the Indian variant, but with the vaccination campaign it should be moderate. The hope is that by mid-June, life will return to normal.
I can’t wait to travel. I really miss having to think, “Can we do this?” Is this allowed? I just want to get back to not having to worry about it anymore. But the mask I think we will still use for a long time.
Naiara Cother, 29, a doctor, lives in Hereford, England, a country where 31% of the population has already been fully vaccinated.
‘I desperately need to be vaccinated’
I am hypertensive, I am over 60 years old and I am desperate, very anxious even to be vaccinated in Guatemala.
I went to the health center four times to see if I could, I stood in line at 5 a.m., took a letter from the doctor talking about my illness, but they didn’t want to see me because my group age had not yet arrived.
I only know people younger than me who have been vaccinated, so the system is flawed. We’ve also had cases of politicians skipping the line and getting vaccinated before priority groups.
I have a panic from this disease. Tonight I was told that a close friend is intubated in the intensive care unit.
I have friends who have died from Covid. My cousin and her husband were infected, he died. The problem is, you never know how this virus will behave if it infects you.
I want to be vaccinated because I want to have the freedom to go out, to go to any supermarket. I have ten brothers and I couldn’t see them because they also take care of themselves. I couldn’t go to my city, when I meet someone we have to keep our distance.
I heard that next week people my age are going to be vaccinated. Will take. I’ll be the first in line.
Rosalito Guzmán, 64, is a retired lawyer and lives in Guatemala City, a country that has only vaccinated 0.01% of the population with both doses.
‘I can’t imagine when it will be my turn’
There is extreme frustration here in South Africa with the slow pace of vaccination. They still vaccinate citizens over 60, they have not finished vaccinating the elderly.
Of my family, only my mother, a nurse, was vaccinated. I have no idea when my turn will come.
Hospitals are not as overcrowded as they were last year, but their numbers are increasing now. Despite this, fewer people are taking preventative measures and there are many more social events than before.
We are at level 1 restrictions, which means the country is open. There are no major requirements at the moment, except that we have to wear masks and clean our hands.
I wear my mask, wash my hands, work from home, and limit my social activities whenever I can.
I know of five people who have died of this disease, two of whom are under the age of 60. I haven’t lost any close friends, thank goodness, but a person who was my colleague has passed away. It was in the same area as me.
I still haven’t thought about what to do after being vaccinated because I think that day is too far away. What I do know is that I want to travel abroad as soon as possible.
Tumi Motsoatsoe, 33, a cultural professional, is from Johannesburg, South Africa, a country where only 1% of the population has been fully vaccinated.