Only 58 countries meet WHO’s 70% Covid vaccination target: WHO chief 

Our Bureau | | Updated on: Jul 07, 2022
World Health Organization Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

World Health Organization Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus | Photo Credit: DENIS BALIBOUSE

Access-related battles continue on tests and therapeutics 

Only 58 countries have reached the 70 percent Covid vaccination target for June 2022, as the problem now shifts from supply to demand and distribution. And this, even as the same access-related battles remain on the tests and therapeutics front, said the World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“While a record number of countries have finally achieved our 10 percent and 40 percent coverage targets, only 58 countries have so far reached the 70 percent vaccination target for June 2022. For vaccines, we have moved from a problem of supply to one of demand and distribution. But when it comes to getting tests and therapeutics, we are still fighting many of the same battles,” he said, calling for political will and finances to turn vaccines into vaccinations and tests into testing.

Last year, the WHO had set the 70 percent benchmark for countries to vaccinate their populations, and in the last 18 months, more than 12 billion vaccines had been distributed around the world, he said, at an earlier briefing. About 75 percent of the world’s health workers and over-60s are now vaccinated, he added.

However, hundreds of millions of people, including tens of millions of health workers and older people in lower-income countries remain unvaccinated, which means they are more vulnerable to future waves of the virus, he had pointed out.

“While the hoarding of vaccines by rich and manufacturing countries was the major barrier to access last year, increasingly political commitment to getting vaccines out to people - and challenges of disinformation – have been hurdles at the national level in 2022,” he added.

Agreement on tests

On the testing front, a new sub-licence agreement between the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP) on behalf of C-TAP, and South African pharmaceutical company Biotech Africa was formalised over a fortnight ago to hasten the manufacture and sale of a Covid-19 serological antibody technology around the world.

C-TAP is the WHO’s Covid-19 Technology Access Pool initiative, set up in 2020 to facilitate equitable and affordable access to Covid-19 health products. The new agreement was on the back of a licensing agreement by WHO and MPP last year with Spain’s National Research Council (CSIC). The non-exclusive sub-licence allows Biotech to manufacture and commercialize CSIC’s Covid-19 serological test worldwide. The test checks for anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies developed either in response to a Covid-19 infection or to a vaccine. The agreement covered all related patents and the biological material needed to manufacture the test.

Published on July 07, 2022
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