Head of WHO appeals for global cooperation to ensure vaccination begins in all countries within first 100 days of year.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday urged the “immediate” donation of 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to 20 poorer nations in the world to ensure equitable distribution of jabs worldwide.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during an online press conference in Geneva that increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines had resulted in delays.
Tedros stressed that with nearly a quarter of the year over, 36 countries were still waiting to get their doses and start vaccinating their populations.
Of these, 16 are scheduled to receive their first doses from COVAX within the next 15 days, adding that 20 countries remained to wait for vaccines.
“But, getting all countries started by day 100 is a solvable problem. COVAX needs 10 million doses immediately as an urgent stop-gap measure so these 20 countries can start vaccinating their healthcare workers and older people within the next two weeks,” Tedros said.
“So today, I’m asking countries with doses of COVID-19 vaccines that have WHO Emergency Use Listing to donate as many doses as they can to help us meet that target. And I’m asking manufacturers to help ensure these countries can rapidly donate those doses,” the director-general added.
Tedros also asked manufacturers to scale up their production so extra vaccines could be donated to poorer countries, criticizing numerous private deals countries have struck with pharmaceutical firms that have meant fewer vaccines for developing countries.