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‘Scandalous inequity’: WHO says 75% of vaccines given out in just 10 countries

Click to play video: '‘Scandalous inequity:’WHO urges rich countries to get more vaccines for poorer countries' ‘Scandalous inequity:’WHO urges rich countries to get more vaccines for poorer countries
WATCH: The COVID-19 pandemic is being perpetuated by a "scandalous inequity" in vaccine distribution, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, addressing its annual ministerial assembly, urged countries to donate vaccine doses to the COVAX mechanism to inoculate 10% of populations of all countries by September, and 30% by year-end – May 24, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic is being perpetuated by a “scandalous inequity” in vaccine distribution, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday as he set new targets for protecting people in the poorest countries.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that no country should assume that it’s “out of the woods,” no matter its vaccination rate, as long as the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants spread elsewhere.

Read more: COVID-19 death tolls could be up to three times above official counts, WHO says

“The world remains in a very dangerous situation,” Tedros told the opening of the annual assembly of health ministers from its 194 member states.

“As of today, more cases have been reported so far this year than in the whole of 2020. On current trends, the number of deaths will overtake last year’s total within the next three weeks. This is very tragic,” he said.

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He said more than 75 per cent of all vaccines had been administered in just 10 countries.

“There is no diplomatic way to say it: a small group of countries that make and buy the majority of the world’s vaccines control the fate of the rest of the world.”

Click to play video: 'COVID-19: World has entered stage of ‘vaccine apartheid’, WHO head says' COVID-19: World has entered stage of ‘vaccine apartheid’, WHO head says
COVID-19: World has entered stage of ‘vaccine apartheid’, WHO head says – May 17, 2021

The COVAX facility, run by WHO and the GAVI vaccine alliance, has delivered 72 million vaccine doses to 125 countries and economies since February – barely sufficient for one per cent of their populations, Tedros said.

He urged countries to donate vaccine doses to COVAX to enable 10 per cent of the populations of all countries to be inoculated by September and 30 per cent by year-end. This meant vaccinating 250 million more people in just four months, he said.

“This is crucial to stop disease and death, keep our healthcare workers safe, reopen our societies and economies,” Tedros said.

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Read more: WHO asks rich countries to donate COVID-19 jabs instead of vaccinating kids

Tedros also called on vaccine manufacturers to give COVAX the first right of refusal on new volumes of vaccines, or to commit 50 per cent of their volumes to COVAX this year.

French President Emmanuel Macron called for the WHO to be empowered to visit countries rapidly in case of outbreaks with potential to spark a pandemic, and to access data.

Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in separate pre-recorded remarks to the assembly, called for the U.N. agency’s funding to be improved and backed the idea of a new international treaty to prevent pandemics.

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COVID-19 situation in India ‘beyond heartbreaking,’ WHO chief says – Apr 26, 2021

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