Moscow, Jan 9: The chief of the World Health Organization slammed high-income countries on Friday for scooping up COVID-19 vaccines and called for their equitable distribution.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a daily news briefing that the WHO’s vaccine distribution mechanism COVAX had secured contracts for 2 billion doses of vaccines, but better-off countries were draining vaccine supplies by making additional bilateral deals.
“I urge countries that have contracted more vaccines that they will need and are controlling the global supply to also donate and release them to COVAX immediately,” Tedros told reporters.
He estimated that 42 countries were already rolling out vaccines, including 36 high-income countries and six middle-income ones.
“At the outset, rich countries have bought up the majority of the supply of multiple vaccines … This potentially bumps up the price for everyone and means high-risk people in the poorest and most marginalized countries don’t get the vaccine,” he explained.
Tedros warned that “vaccine nationalism hurts us all and is self-defeating.” When rolled out equitably, vaccines would spur a global economic recovery and limit the virus’s opportunity to mutate by curbing its transmission.