Stockpiling Covid-19 vaccine threatens COVAX supply: WHO

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on February 27, 2021

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World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that countries that are seeking their own coronavirus doses from the drug companies by directly approaching them are disrupting the supply of the WHO’s global COVAX program, Aljazeera reported.

The COVAX program has been established by the WHO to provide equal access to vaccines to people who live in low-and-middle-income countries. Under this flagship, WHO intends to supply 1.3 billion vaccine doses to these countries.

In a briefing, WHO senior adviser Bruce Aylward said, as cited in the Aljazeera report, “Now, some countries are still pursuing deals that will compromise the COVAX supply. Without a doubt.”

The multilateral organization has urged rich countries many a time to ensure equitable access to the vaccine.

“We can’t beat Covid without vaccine equity. Our world will not recover fast enough without vaccine equity, this is clear,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

He added, “We have made great progress. But that progress is fragile. We need to accelerate the supply and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, and we cannot do that if some countries continue to approach manufacturers who are producing vaccines that COVAX is counting on.”

“These actions undermine COVAX and deprive health workers and vulnerable people around the world of life-saving vaccines.” he further said.

WHO leaders also asked rich countries to waive intellectual property rules so as to allow other countries to develop vaccines more quickly.

“If not now, when?” Tedros asked.

According to media reports, the proposal to waive intellectual property rules for Covid-19 vaccines will be further discussed next week at the World Trade Organization convention.

Published on February 27, 2021

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