Science

WHO chief says poor countries received ‘just 25’ doses of Covid-19 vaccine

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on January 19, 2021

‘Catastrophic moral failure’ on part of rich countries for stockpiling vaccine, says Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that the world is on the “brink of a catastrophic moral failure” if rich countries continue to stockpile Covid-19 vaccines with no regard for poor countries, as per media reports.

Denouncing the “me-first” approach of the wealthier nations, the WHO head also deplored vaccine manufacturers for seeking approval from rich nations rather than approaching WHO that can give a nod to its global use.

Tedros believes that equitable access to the coronavirus vaccine is now at serious risk. The chief made the comments during his speech in Geneva while opening a WHO executive board meeting.

Tedros revealed that 39 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine had been administered so far in at least 49 higher-income countries. Meanwhile, just 25 doses have been given in one lowest-income country. “Not 25 million; not 25,000; just 25,” he said.

“I need to be blunt. The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure — and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries,” he added in exasperation.

Also read: WHO awaits Serum Institute data to recommend Covid-19 vaccine for international use

He said even the countries that peddled for equitable access are now prioritising their own deals with manufacturers. These countries are now influencing the prices and trying to jump the queue.

He said 44 such deals were struck in 2020 and at least 12 have already been signed since the New Year.

“The situation is compounded by the fact that most manufacturers have prioritised regulatory approval in rich countries where the profits are highest, rather than submitting full dossiers to WHO,” Tedros said.

He added: “Not only does this me-first approach leave the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people at risk, but it’s also self-defeating. Ultimately, these actions will only prolong the pandemic, our pain, the restrictions needed to contain it, and human and economic suffering.”

Published on January 19, 2021

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