Rich countries jumping the COVID-19 vaccine queue -WHO

Lara Adejoro

The World Health Organisation says 42 countries have started vaccinating their high-risk populations with various COVID-19 vaccines.

The Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said this at the Member States briefing on COVID-19.

He, however, said this is a problem because some countries are pursuing new deals outside of COVAX, offering higher prices.

Ghebreyesus said of the 42, 36 are high-income and six are upper middle-income countries.

“This is clearly a problem and this problem is getting worse because some countries are pursuing new deals outside of COVAX, offering higher prices.

“This compromises our collective commitment to equitable access. We have to take action to address this,” he noted.

According to him, 190 countries and economies committed to the COVAX Facility and stakeholders are expected to ensure vaccines are distributed as swiftly and equitably as possible to all countries

“We have a collective responsibility to make this a reality. History will not judge us kindly if we fail the low- and middle-income countries in their hour of need and sharing is in the best interest of each and every country.

“We can only recover faster as a global community by sharing,” he said.

On polio transition, the WHO chief said progress has been made at the political and governance level.

“Now we have to ensure closer alignment between polio eradication and transition, as well as drive a plan of action in individual countries to maintain essential public health functions.

“This will mean utilising the excellent polio assets developed by the polio programme, as well as reviewing the domestic financing available and identify any external funding needs.

“This is a high priority issue and we look forward to Member States support on this.

“I was pleased to see the Polio Oversight Board statement, which committed the polio programme to supporting COVID-19 vaccine introduction and delivery through existing assets, infrastructure and expertise, while also ensuring that we consign polio to the history books,” Ghebreyesus said.

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