WHO accuses Rich Countries of 'Skipping line' on Vaccines

WHO accuses Rich Countries of ‘Skipping line’ on Vaccines


At a session of the Council of Europe parliamentary assembly on Wednesday, Tedros said that “the promise of equitable access is in serious jeopardy.”

“A ‘me first’ approach leaves the world’s poorest and most vulnerable at risk,” he said, adding that it is also counterproductive. “Many countries have bought more vaccines than they need.”

“Now we face the real danger that while vaccines bring hope to those who live in rich countries, much of the world could be left behind,” added Tedros.

He said that some companies and countries were making bilateral agreements in an attempt to jump to the front of the line. This is driving up prices and means that they are “turning around” the COVAX mechanism, a WHO program that buys vaccines in bulk for distribution to the poorest countries.

Seventy-five per cent of the doses distributed have been distributed in just 10 countries, Tedros said, and it is not correct that younger, healthier adults in rich countries can get the vaccine before health workers and older people in countries poorer, he added.

The emergence of new variants of Covid-19 has made rapid and equitable implementation of vaccines even more important, he added.

Tedros said the WHO COVAX program had secured contracts for 2 billion doses from five producers this year and has options for 1 billion additional doses next year. He said the first deliveries of doses purchased through the program should take place next month.

However, he added that the WHO still needs funds to complete the purchases contracted for this year. COVAX needs to have access to those doses soon, not to the “leftovers many months from now,” Tedros said.

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