The hoarding of COVID-19 vaccines by rich countries is not only unethical but will also prolong the pandemic, UN health chief, Tedros Ghebreyesus, warned on Monday in Geneva.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General reported that just 25 vaccine doses have been administered in the world’s poorest countries, compared with more than 39 shots in at least 49 wealthy countries.
“Not 25 million, not 25 thousand, Just 25,’’ Ghebreyesus, told a WHO executive board meeting.
“The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure.
“The price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries,’’ he added.
The WHO and several global health funds in 2019 launched the so-called Covax initiative that aims for a fair distribution of vaccines between developed and developing countries.
Although many wealthy countries have signed on, they have been striking separate deals with pharmaceutical companies to secure additional doses for their own citizens.
This approach is self-defeating, Tedros warned.
Leaving poorer regions unprotected against the COVID-19 coronavirus disease means that the pandemic will last longer, he added.
“In the end, wealthy countries stand to gain economically from ending the pandemic sooner if they share vaccine supplies with Covax,’’ Ghebreyesus, said. (dpa/NAN)