The inequitable distribution of vaccines is not just a moral outrage, it is also economically self-defeating, says WHO chief.
There is an urgent need to address the issue of inequitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, the World Health Organisation (WHO) chief has said.
“We can only face shared threats with shared solutions. Vaccines are giving us hope and bringing the pandemic under control. But we can only do that if we use vaccines strategically to suppress transmission everywhere at the same time,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, WHO, during the World Immunisation and Logistics Summit that began in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
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“The gap between the number of vaccines administered in rich countries and through COVAX is growing every single day,” said Dr Tedros.
“The inequitable distribution of vaccines is not just a moral outrage. It is also economically and epidemiologically self-defeating. The more transmission, the more variants. And the more variants that emerge, the more likely it is that they will evade vaccines. As long as the virus continues to circulate anywhere, people will continue to die. Trade and travel will continue to be disrupted. And the economic recovery will be further delayed.”
The WHO, he said, working to find solutions to increase the production and equitable distribution of vaccines.
“Vaccinating at this scale and this time frame has never been done before and we face significant challenges.”
He said the WHO is holding discussions with countries and manufacturers to ramp up production and solve bottlenecks.
“But ultimately it’s not vaccines that save lives, it is vaccinations. The scale of what’s needed in terms of the number of vaccinators, engagement with communities and ongoing monitoring, and health system strengthening is truly unprecedented,” Ghebreyesus said during the opening day of the summit.
“WHO welcomes the Hope Consortium initiative led by the UAE government and we look forward to working with you to frame a partnership in support of the COVAX facility. We can only meet this challenge together with a coordinated, consistent and coherent approach. Ultimately ending the pandemic is not just a test of science. It is a test of character.”