39m COVID-19 Vaccines Given in 49 Rich Countries, 25 Doses in One Poor Nation -WHO

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The World Health Organisation Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, reported that just 25 vaccine doses have been administered in the world’s poorest countries, compared with more than 39 million doses already given in at least 49 wealthy countries.

The hoarding of COVID-19 vaccines by rich countries is not only unethical but will also prolong the pandemic, Ghebreyesus warned on Monday in Geneva.

“More than 39 million doses of vaccine have now been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries.

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“Just 25 doses have been given in one lowest-income country. Not 25 million; not 25,000; 25,” Ghebreyesus told a WHO executive board meeting.

“The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure. The price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries,’’ he warned.

The WHO and several global health funds in 2019 launched the so-called Covax initiative that aims for a fair distribution of vaccines between developed and developing countries.

Although many wealthy countries have signed on, they have been striking separate deals with pharmaceutical companies to secure additional doses for their own citizens.

This approach is self-defeating, Tedros warned.

Leaving poorer regions unprotected against the COVID-19 coronavirus disease means that the pandemic will last longer, he added.

“In the end, wealthy countries stand to gain economically from ending the pandemic sooner if they share vaccine supplies with Covax,’’ Ghebreyesus, said.

See the speech, in part: “Vaccines are the shot in the arm we all need – literally and figuratively.

“The recent emergence of rapidly-spreading variants makes the rapid and equitable rollout of vaccines all the more important.

“But we now face the real danger that even as vaccines bring hope to some, they become another brick in the wall of inequality between the world’s haves and have-nots.

“Vaccines are the shot in the arm we all need – literally and figuratively.

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“The recent emergence of rapidly-spreading variants makes the rapid and equitable rollout of vaccines all the more important.

 

“It’s right that all governments want to prioritize vaccinating their own #healthworkers & older people first. But it’s not right that younger, healthier adults in rich countries are vaccinated before health workers & older people in poorer countries.

 

“There will be enough vaccine for everyone. But right now, we must work together as one global family to prioritize those most at risk of severe disease and death, in all countries.

 

“It’s right that all governments want to prioritize vaccinating their own health workers and older people first. But it’s not right that younger, healthier adults in rich countries are vaccinated before health workers and older people in poorer countries.

 

“For the past nine months, the ACT Accelerator and the COVAX vaccines pillar have been laying the groundwork for the equitable distribution & deployment of vaccines.

 

“We’ve overcome scientific, legal, logistical & regulatory barriers. We’ve secured two billion doses from five producers, with options on more than one billion more doses, and we aim to start deliveries in February.

 

“COVAX is ready to deliver what it was created for. For the past nine months, the ACT Accelerator and the COVAX vaccines pillar have been laying the groundwork for the equitable distribution and deployment of vaccines.

 

“We’ve overcome scientific, legal, logistical and regulatory barriers. But in recent weeks, I have heard from several Member States who have questioned whether COVAX will get the vaccines it needs, and whether high-income countries will keep the promises they have made.

 

“As the first vaccines begin to be deployed, the promise of equitable access is at serious risk.

 

“More than 39 million doses of vaccine have now been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries. Just 25 doses have been given in one lowest-income country.

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“Not 25 million; not 25 thousand; 25″,” the WHO chief laments.

 

(dpa/NAN/twitter)

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