The COVID-19 pandemic is being fueled by “scandalous inequity” in vaccine distribution, WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said on Monday as he established new goals for protecting people in the world’s poorest countries.
No country, no matter its vaccination rate, should not consider it is “out of the woods” as long as the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants proliferate elsewhere, according to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“The globe remains in a very perilous scenario,” Tedros said at the opening of the annual meeting of the 194 member states’ health ministers.
“As of now, there have been more cases reported this year than there will be in the entire year of 2020. According to current trends, the number of deaths will surpass the amount from last year over the next three weeks. This is a horrible situation “he stated.
He claimed that only ten countries had administered more than 75% of all vaccinations.
“There is no diplomatic way of putting it: a tiny handful of countries that manufacture and buy the vast bulk of the world’s vaccines have complete influence over the rest of the world’s fate.”
Since February, the COVAX facility, administered by WHO and the GAVI vaccination alliance, has provided 72 million vaccine doses to 125 nations and economies, only enough for 1% of their populations, according to Tedros.
He asked countries to donate vaccine doses to COVAX so that 10% of the world’s population may be immunized by September and 30% by the end of the year. According to him, this meant vaccinating 250 million extra individuals in just four months.
“This is critical to preventing sickness and mortality, ensuring the safety of our healthcare personnel, and reopening our society and economies,” Tedros added.
Tedros also urged vaccine makers to offer COVAX first refusal on new vaccine quantities or to commit 50% of their current vaccination quantities to COVAX this year.
Emmanuel Macron, the French president, has urged for the WHO to be given the authority to visit countries quickly in the event of outbreaks having the potential to spread a pandemic, as well as to access data.
In separate pre-recorded statements to the assembly, Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for increased funding for the UN agency and backed the notion of a new worldwide treaty to combat pandemics.