WHO Chief blasts nations for shocking COVID-19 vaccine distribution imbalance

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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WHO Director General
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a recent media briefing

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) has raised his displeasure about the COVID-19 vaccine distribution between rich and lesser privileged nations by pronouncing the status quo as a “shocking imbalance”. 

In his address to the media, the WHO Director-General remarked that “there remains a shocking imbalance in the global distribution of vaccines.”

Dr. Ghebreyesus painfully reminded that the current status quo about the COVID-19 vaccine distribution will, unfortunately, make sure that vaccination programs will not be underway in every country by this weekend, a milestone WHO was keenly looking forward to.

The world health organization has been spearheading the COVAX initiative which was designed to ensure a fairer distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine where poorer nations also have access to the medication. The COVAX initiative has so far distributed more than 38 million doses to around 100 countries across the globe.

Greater Ambitions 

The WHO-led COVAX initiative aims to deliver 2 billion+ COVID-19 vaccine doses in less than a year. The initiative wants to ensure that 92 poorer countries will receive access to vaccines at the same time as wealthier countries.

“On average in high-income countries, almost one in four people have received a Covid-19 vaccine. In low-income countries, it’s one in more than 500,” Dr. Ghebreyesus stated.

Even though COVAX aimed for distributing at least 100 million doses worldwide by the end of March, the initiative only managed to deliver 38 million doses till now.

“We hope to be able to catch up during April and May,” the WHO Director-General remarked.

Dr. Ghebreyesus also took the opportunity to criticize global superpowers making their own deals with vaccine manufacturers stating that “some countries and companies plan to do their own bilateral vaccine donations, bypassing Covax for their own political or commercial reasons.”

“These bilateral arrangements run the risk of fanning the flames of vaccine inequity,” the WHO official observed while adding that “scarcity of supply is driving vaccine nationalism.”

Related: HSBC, Asian Development Bank jointly vow $300mn to boost vaccine supply