The Director-General of the World Health Organisation, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says on Monday that “there is now real hope” that vaccines will play an essential part in helping to end the COVID pandemic.
He told journalists on Monday that along with other tried and tested public health measures, vaccines will be crucial to ending the viral pandemic.
“With the latest positive news from vaccine trials, the light at the end of this long, dark tunnel is growing brighter,” said the WHO chief.
“The significance of this scientific achievement cannot be overstated”.
Noting that no vaccine in history has been developed as rapidly, the WHO chief remarked that the scientific community had set “a new standard for vaccine development” and now the international community must set “a new standard for access”.
“The urgency with which vaccines have been developed must be matched by the same urgency to distribute them fairly,” he said, warning of a real risk that the poorest and most vulnerable will be “trampled in the stampede” to get inoculated.
A UN statement said Dr. Tedros explained that it is against this backdrop that WHO and its partners established the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator back in April.
“The ACT Accelerator has supported the fastest, most coordinated and successful global effort in history to develop vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics.”
He said that currently, 50 diagnostics are under evaluation; rapid antigen diagnostics are now available for low and middle-income countries; while life-saving treatments are being rolled out and new medicines tested.
Moreover, 187 countries are taking part in the COVAX facility, to collaborate on the procurement and rollout of vaccines, “ensuring the best possible prices, volumes and timing for all countries”, he said.
Despite the excellent progress, Dr. Tedros said that “only a fundamental change in funding and approach will realize the full promise of the ACT Accelerator”.
He revealed that US$4.3 billion is still needed to support mass procurement and delivery, tests and treatments this year and another US$23.8 billion will be required in 2021.
“This isn’t charity, it’s the fastest and smartest way to end the pandemic and drive the global economic recovery,” he stressed.
According to the International Monetary Fund, if medical solutions can be made available faster and more widely, they could lead to a cumulative increase in global income of almost US$9 trillion by the end of 2025.
“The real question is not whether the world can afford to share vaccines and other tools; it’s whether it can afford not to,” stated the WHO chief.
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