Over 335 million people across the globe have so far been vaccinated against Covid-19, which continues to infect and claim lives, more than a year after the pandemic was first detected in China.
To date, over 120 million people have contracted the coronavirus, of which 67.9 million have recovered while 2.65 million of them have since succumbed to it.
In Zimbabwe, Covid-19 cases stand at 36 484 of which over 34 000 have recovered while over 1 500 have since died of complications related to the disease.
Briefing the media on the pandemic Friday, World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said over 335 million Covid-19 vaccines have to date been administered in 144 countries.
“The inequitable distribution of vaccines remains the biggest threat to ending the pandemic and driving a global recovery.”
COVAX, a donor funded facility ensuring equitable distribution of vaccines across the globe including the world’s poorest countries, has to date delivered almost 29 million doses of vaccine to 38 countries.
He said manufacturing any vaccine requires a lot of supplies, including glass vials and plastic filters, and the raw materials needed to make them.
“The sudden increase in demand for vaccine production has led to a shortage of these and other supplies, which is limiting the production of vaccines for COVID-19 and could put the supply of routine childhood vaccines at risk,” said Ghebreyesus
“Some countries have imposed legal restrictions on the export of critical supplies. This is putting lives at risk around the world. We call on all countries not to stockpile supplies that are needed urgently to ramp up production of vaccines. In a global pandemic, no country can go it alone. We are all inter-dependent. And no country can simply vaccinate its way out of this pandemic. We cannot end the pandemic anywhere unless we end it everywhere.
The WHO chief said the longer the virus circulates, the higher the chances that variants will emerge that make vaccines less effective.
“But variants don’t make physical distancing less effective,” said Ghebreyesus.
“They don’t make hand hygiene, masks, ventilation and other public health measures less effective. We must continue to do it all.
As part of measures to increase the availability of vaccines, WHO last week gave emergency use listing to Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, making it the fourth vaccine to receive the global health authority’s approval.
“Emergency use listing is the green light for a vaccine to be procured and rolled out by COVAX,” explained Ghebreyesus.
“The COVAX Facility has booked 500 million doses of the J&J vaccine, and we look forward to receiving them as soon as possible.”