The World Health Organisation on Friday said the number of coronavirus vaccinations administered globally has overtaken the number of reported COVID-19 infections.
The United Nations health agency, however, said nearly 130 countries with a total population of about 2.5 billion people have yet to administer a single dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
WHO Director General, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, who disclosed this at a press briefing on Friday described the reduction in reported infections as good news and a remarkable achievement in such a short time frame.
Ghebreyesus, however, noted, “But more than three quarters of those vaccinations are in just 10 countries that account for almost 60 percent of global Gross Domestic Product.
“Around 130 countries, with 2.5 billion people, are yet to administer a single dose.
“Once countries with vaccines have vaccinated their own health workers and older people, the best way to protect the rest of their own population is to share vaccines so other countries can do the same.
“That’s because the longer it takes to vaccinate those most at risk everywhere, the more opportunity we give the virus to mutate and evade vaccines.”
“In other words, unless we suppress the virus everywhere, we could end up back at square one.”
While reiterating that all governments have an obligation to protect their own people, the WHO DG encouraged countries to share their vaccines.
“But we also need a massive scale-up in production. Last week, Sanofi announced it would make its manufacturing infrastructure available to support production of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. We call on other companies to follow this example.
“Companies can also issue non-exclusive licenses to allow other producers to manufacture their vaccine – a mechanism that has been used before to expand access to treatments for HIV and hepatitis C”, he added.
Earlier this week, the organisation reported that global cases were down for the third week in a row. Infections are down in the U.S., Brazil, the U.K., Russia, India, Italy and France, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Officials report over 105 million cases of the virus documented across the globe and roughly 2.3 million deaths.
The Executive Director of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, Mike Ryan, said that countries need to keep up their mitigation efforts.
“It’s been a tough number of weeks for people in many countries, and it’s beginning to pay off.
“Adding vaccine into that equation is going to double and triple the payoff and the lives that we can save. But we have to follow through and we have to continue to do everything to keep pushing that number down,” Ryan said.
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