The World Health Organisation (WHO) has taken a swipe at Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers for not prioritising COVAX and AVAT facilities in their distribution while hiding behind lame excuses.
COVAX – COVID19 Vaccines Global Access and AVAT – Africa Vaccines Acquisition Trust, facilities aimed at ensuring vaccines get to all corners of the world including the poorest countries.
However, manufacturers have been prioritising rich countries in vaccine distribution at the expense of the poor making it difficult for the global health authority to end the pandemic which has been ongoing for nearly two years now.
Wealthy countries are already giving booster shots to their populations while some of the poor nations are yet to administer first doses to their citizens.
Briefing the media on COVID-19 recently, WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged vaccine manufacturers to prioritise COVAX and AVAT going forward.
“We continue to hear excuses about why low-income countries have only received 0.4% of the world’s vaccines,” said Ghebreyesus.
“One is that low-income countries can’t absorb vaccines. That’s not true. With the exception of a few fragile, conflict-affected and vulnerable countries, most low-income countries are ready to go. The problem is simply that they cannot get the vaccines.
Ghebreyesus further said: “Another excuse from manufacturers is that low-income countries have not placed orders for vaccines. Most low-income countries are relying on COVAX, which has the money and the contracts to buy vaccines on their behalf. But manufacturers have not played their part. We still don’t know when the manufacturers will deliver.”
The WHO chief said it does not make sense for vaccines to be continuously sent to countries that have vaccinated a significant number of people while the poor are waiting.
“No more boosters should be administered, except to immunocompromised people. Most countries with high vaccine coverage continue to ignore our call for a global moratorium on boosters, at the expense of health workers and vulnerable groups in low-income countries who are still waiting for the first doses.”
Meanwhile, WHO has highlighted that COVID-19 is still far from being over.
“22 months since the first cases of COVID-19 were reported, and almost a year since the first vaccines were approved, reported cases and deaths from COVID-19 are increasing again,” said Ghebreyesus.
“More than 5 million deaths have now been reported, and we know the real number is higher. We are still losing more than 50 thousand of our sisters and brothers every week. Last week, 56 countries, from all regions, reported an increase in deaths from COVID-19 of more than 10%.”
He added: “We hear reports from many countries about lack of ICU beds, lack of supplies, overwhelmed health workers, and hospitals deferring other needed procedures. Let me be very clear: this should not be happening. We have all the tools to prevent transmission and save lives, and we continue to call on all countries to use those tools.”