Lack of COVID-19 vaccine in poorer countries marks global community’s failure; WHO

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Image
Director-General of WHO Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Wealthy countries are now opening up societies and vaccinating young people who are not at great risk from COVID-19, while the poorest countries around the world are still struggling with lack of doses, the World Health Organization (WHO) said, condemning a global failure.

The situation in Africa, where new infections and deaths jumped by nearly 40 percent last week compared to the previous week, is so dangerous as the Delta variant spreads globally, WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

“Our world is failing, as the global community we are failing,” Dr. Tedros stated, by scolding unnamed countries for reluctance to share doses with low-income countries. He compared it to the HIV/AIDS crisis when some argued that African nations were unable to use complicated treatments.

“I mean that attitude has to be a thing of the past. The problem now is a supply problem, just give us the vaccines. The difference is between the haves and the have nots which is now completely exposing the unfairness of our world, the injustice, the inequality, let’s face it,” Dr. Tedros said.

WHO’s top emergency expert Mike Ryan stated that many developing countries are much better than industrialized countries in conducting mass inoculation of their populations against infectious diseases from cholera to polio.

“The level of paternalism, the level of the colonial mindset that says ‘we can’t give you something because we’re afraid you won’t use it. I mean seriously, in the middle of a pandemic?,” Mr. Ryan added.

COVAX, run jointly by the GAVI vaccine alliance and the WHO, has delivered 90 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to 132 countries since February but has faced major supply issues since India suspended vaccine exports.

“We have through COVAX this month zero doses of AstraZeneca vaccines, zero doses of SII vaccines (Serum Institute of India), zero doses of J & J (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine. The situation right now is dire,” said Bruce Aylward, WHO senior adviser.

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