The Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said that the deal between high-income countries and manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccine are undermining its COVAX initiative by reducing the number of doses it can purchase.
This is as he pleads with rich countries to check before ordering additional Covid-19 vaccine shots for themselves whether that undermines efforts to get vaccine shots to poorer nations.
According to a report from Al Jazeera, this was disclosed by the WHO boss after talks with German President, Walter Steinmeier
Wealthy nations have snapped up several billion vaccine doses and some countries have ordered enough shots to vaccinate their populations more than once, while some countries in the developing world have little or none.
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Tedros said that these actions by the rich countries have even led to the reduction of the amount that was allocated to COVAX, although he did not mention the names of the countries involved or provide other details.
He harped on the need for the rich countries to cooperate in respecting the deals that COVAX has with the manufacturers and make sure before they seek more vaccines that their requests do not undermine those deals.
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Tedros said, “But I don’t think they’re asking that question.’’
Tedros, who has earlier warned that the world faces a catastrophic moral failure if Covid-19 vaccines are not distributed fairly, said he understands the political pressures leaders in high-income countries face.
He said, “If this virus is not defeated everywhere, we cannot defeat it globally. It will have a safe haven somewhere and can strike back.’’
He added that countries left behind in vaccinating could also become breeding grounds for new variants.
He also called for the stepping up of vaccine production because with increased production, there will be more vaccines available, then there is a better volume to share.
What you should know
- The WHO has kicked against vaccine nationalism, which they said will prolong the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. A successful global vaccination campaign is considered to be key to stemming the pandemic.
- This led to the launching of the WHO-backed COVAX initiative to ensure equitable distribution of the coronavirus vaccine across the globe, especially among the poorer countries.
- European nations have given financial support to the UN-backed COVAX scheme, which aims to get vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable people and are considering sharing some of their own doses, though they have not specified when.
- On Friday, leaders of the Group of Seven industrial powers said they would accelerate global vaccine development and deployment and support “affordable and equitable access to vaccines” and treatments for COVID-19.
They cited a collective $7.5bn from the G7 to UN-backed efforts.