Thu, 25 Feb 2021

WHO Chief Warns About Inequity of Global COVID Vaccine Campaign

Voice of America
19 Jan 2021, 00:35 GMT+10

The head of the World Health Organization is calling for greater global equity in COVID-19 vaccinations, saying rich countries need to share vaccines with poor countries.

Addressing a WHO executive board meeting in Geneva Monday, executive director Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it is "not right that younger, healthier adults in rich countries are vaccinated before health workers and older people in poorer countries."

"More than 39 million doses of vaccine have now been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries. Just 25 doses have been given in one lowest income country," 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," the WHO chief said. "Vaccine equity is not just a moral imperative, it is a strategic and economic imperative."

Meanwhile, the top U.S. infectious disease expert said Sunday that President-elect Joe Biden's ambitious plan to inoculate 100 million people with the COVID vaccine in the U.S. during the first 100 days of his presidency "is absolutely a doable thing."

Speaking on NBC Television's "Meet the Press," Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that with the current vaccines and additional vaccines scheduled to come to market soon, combined with adherence to wearing masks and observing social distancing, he believes the U.S. could be in "good shape."

Currently, the U.S. is far from being in "good shape." With nearly 24 million COVID cases, it has more infections than any other country. The rollout of the U.S. vaccination campaign has been problematic, with far fewer people inoculated by the end of last year than the Trump administration predicted.

India and Brazil follow the U.S. with COVID infections with 10.5 million and 8.4 million respectively.

Mexico's president said Sunday that his country is complying with a United Nations' request for wealthy countries to delay receiving some of their vaccine shipments, which would allow poorer countries to receive more doses.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Sunday while Mexico's Pfizer vaccines would be delayed, Mexico is "already seeking out other vaccines," including Astra-Zeneca, Chinese CanSino and Russian Sputnik V vaccines, according to an Associated Press report.

Brazil approved two vaccines for emergency use against the coronavirus Sunday as the country's death toll from COVID-19 neared 210,000 and some of its hospitals grappled with an oxygen shortage.

Brazil approved emergency use of vaccines from both Britain's Astra-Zeneca and China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Hours later, a nurse in Sao Paulo was inoculated with the Chinese vaccine known as "CoronaVac."

Britain announced Sunday that it plans to have every adult in the country, roughly 51 million people, inoculated by September.

"If we can do it faster than that, great, but that's the road map," Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told SkyNews Sunday.

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