Healthcare workers administer the COVID-19 vaccine to residents who live in the Jackson Heights neighborhood at St. Johns Mission Baptist Church on Jan 10, 2021 in Tampa, Florida.
Octavio Jones | Getty Images
The head of the World Health Organization said on Monday that the fair distribution of coronavirus vaccines is at “grave risk”.
The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned of a “catastrophic moral failure”, “The recent emergence of rapidly spreading variants makes rapid and equitable introduction of vaccines more important.”
But he added that this distribution could easily become “another building block in the wall of inequality between the haves and have-nots in the world.”
“With the start of the publication of the first vaccines, the promise of fair access is in grave danger,” he said, speaking at a session of the WHO executive board.
He said that while 39 million doses of several different vaccines have now been given in at least 49 high-income countries, only 25 doses have been administered in one of the low-income countries.
“I need to be upfront, the world is on the brink of catastrophic moral failure, and that failure will be paid for by lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries.”
At the beginning of his speech, Tedros stressed that developing and adopting safe vaccines for the Coronavirus, less than a year after the virus appeared in China, in late 2019, was “an amazing achievement and a much-needed source of hope.”
However, he added, “It is not right for younger and healthier adults in rich countries to be vaccinated before health workers and elderly people in poor countries.”
“There will be enough vaccine for everyone, but for now we must work together as one global family to prioritize (those) most at risk of serious illness and death in all countries.”
Without naming names, Tedros said some countries and companies speak the language of fair access but continue to prioritize bilateral deals, bypassing COVAX, driving up prices and trying to jump to the top. He said, “This is a mistake.”
COVAX is a global blueprint co-led by an international vaccine alliance called Gavi and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization. It was created to ensure equitable access to a vaccine for every country in the world. It aims to deliver two billion doses of safe and effective vaccines that have passed regulatory approval and / or prequalification by the World Health Organization (WHO) by the end of 2021.
The World Health Organization has called on the wealthiest countries that have previously ordered millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe, to share a portion of those vaccines with COVAX, so they can redistribute them to poor countries.
Wealthier countries have been accused of “stockpiling” more vaccines than they need, although vaccine supplies are still in their early days as mass vaccination campaigns – which began in the West in December – are still in the initial distribution phase.
Tedros called on countries that have bilateral deals with vaccine makers, and on supply controls, to be “transparent with COVAX about volumes, prices and delivery times,” and to share their doses with COVAX once their health workers and the elderly are vaccinated. Population.