On the occasion of the first anniversary of the COVAX dose-sharing facility, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said that the Covid-19 vaccines have remained out of the reach of the poorest countries of the world.
Inequities in vaccine distribution have been repeatedly denounced by the WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and gave a call to wealthier countries to share the excess doses of vaccine that they hold with the low-income countries for inoculating the health workers in such countries.
The Covid-19 pandemic has so far killed more than 3.2 million people globally.
“Nearly 900 million vaccine doses have been administered globally, but over 81% have gone to high- or upper middle-income countries, while low-income countries have received just 0.3%,” Tedros said in a report about the ACT (Access to COVID-19 Tools) Accelerator set up a year ago.
Even as the debate over the access to the vaccines for the world’s poorest people rages on, the European Union has said that it had secured a supply deal for the largest cache of Covid-19 vaccines in the world with a deal to purchase up to 1.8 billion doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for the next few years.
“The response of too many leaders was ‘my country first’. We made a different choice. We knew that we needed to fight this virus not just at home but in all continents and countries, from Asia’s megacities to Africa’s most remote villages” said the EU President Ursula Von der Leyen, in a recorded message to the WHO press conference.
Expressing concern about the rising caseload in India, Tedros also said: “The situation in India is a devastating reminder of what the virus can do.”
The highest daily tally of coronavirus infections of the world was reported for a second straight day on Friday by India as it surpassed the 330,000 new cases mark. The country is struggling with its health system which is overwhelmed by patients. There have also been accidents in hospitals as well as a shortage of oxygen supply.
While one in six Europeans and one in five people in North America have been vaccinated, only one in 100 has been vaccinated in Africa, said the French President Emmanuel Macron.
“It’s unacceptable,” he said.
A call on pharmaceutical companies was given by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa asking them to transfer mRNA vaccine technology to low- and middle-income countries “free of intellectual property barriers”.
“Let us together challenge vaccine nationalism and ensure that protecting intellectual property rights does not come at the expense of human lives,” he added.
Tedros said that $19 billion was needed this year by the ACT Accelerator. He added: “That’s a drop in the ocean compared with the trillions of dollars governments are spending on supporting their economies, and the massive revenues that most vaccine makers are generating.”
(Adapted from Investing.com)