Distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations in 29 countries at the beginning of 2021

Distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations in 29 countries at the beginning of 2021

Figure 1 compares Germany and the UK as countries representing contrasting approaches to their policies regarding the prioritization of COVID-19 vaccinations. The chart shows vaccination sequences from top to bottom – from highest priority to non-priority. Corresponding groups are linked by lines (eg where carers have no priority in the UK they fall into the broad group of vaccinated at the end, so this group is linked to “not prioritized”). Credit: Jagiellonian University/Journal of Law and Biosciences

A research team from the Interdisciplinary Ethics Center of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow (Poland) has analyzed the vaccination programs published by 29 countries at the end of 2020 and 2021, including EU member states, the United Kingdom and Israel, in terms of the order in which they provided vaccination for different groups of citizens. The results of their research were published in Journal of Law and Life Sciences.

COVID-19 vaccinations were in short supply at the start of 2021. A common feature of all vaccination policies was to prioritize healthcare workers as well as staff and residents of nursing facilities. Only ten countries had also designated teachers as a group to prioritize when it came to COVID-19 vaccination, and even fewer decided to do the same for grocery store workers (Austria, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, Romania and Slovenia).

Only six countries followed the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) by giving priority access to vaccination to migrants, refugees and prisoners in crowded conditions (Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia and Romania).

Researchers working on the project mapped the differences between vaccination schedules. The main difference was related to the assumptions on which various countries based their policies. In the UK, for example, the plan was based almost exclusively on the age of the citizens, while other countries took into account various other factors that contribute to an increased risk of death from COVID-19 (eg co-morbidities). A few countries also included an increased risk of infection as a factor (eg Germany).

Karolina Wiśniowska from the Interdisciplinary Center for Ethics (INCET) said that there is no consensus among experts on how to distribute preventive measures and that official plans for the distribution of medical preventive measures in the case of COVID-19 have not yet been identified. or compared systematically.

The researchers note that governments have adopted very different approaches when it came to designing policies for vaccination programs and when it came to designing policies for treating patients who have already been infected with COVID-19.

In March and April 2020, several foreign medical organizations published recommendations on how to distribute medical equipment and drugs in situations where resources are scarce. In particular, they mentioned access to ventilators and intensive care unit beds.

“Some of these recommendations were highly controversial, such as access to ventilators. Some said we considered the likelihood of certain patients surviving, while others suggested estimating their future life expectancy. This could lead to exclusion elderly or patients with complications,” said Prof. Tomasz Żuradzki, head of INCET at the Jagiellonian University.

Another issue was when it came to vaccination programs. All of them prioritized groups with an increased risk of death, such as the elderly, and in many cases patients with complications.

A high risk of infection was much less often taken into account, with the exception of police and emergency service workers as well as social workers.

Vaccination programs for different social groups are in stark contrast to the rules for the allocation of scarce resources in healthcare when it comes to treatment (eg transplantation). In this latter case, the aim is not to save as many people as possible from sudden death, but the feasibility of the operation must be evaluated based on various factors, such as the patient’s expected lifespan and quality of life in the future. In most countries, these rules for the distribution of life-saving medical resources are very similar.

“The moral judgments behind vaccination programs cannot be interpreted unambiguously in light of the prevailing moral framework. However, this ambiguity can be seen as their strength,” said Dr. hab. Wojciech Ciszewski from the Chair of Jurisprudence at the Jagiellonian University. “Since public opinion and experts represent various ethical viewpoints and broad support is necessary for effective vaccination practices, the ability to defend these practices on various ethical grounds can increase their social legitimacy,” he added.

More information:
Value selection in European COVID-19 vaccination programs: how vaccination priorities differ from other priorities, Journal of Law and Life Sciences (2022). DOI: 10.1093/jlb/lsac026

Provided by the Interdisciplinary Center for Ethics, Jagiellonian University in Krakow

Quotation: Allocation of COVID-19 vaccinations in 29 countries at the beginning of 2021 (2022, November 9) retrieved November 10, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-11-allocation-covid-vaccinations-countries.html

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