There are no doses of Covid-19 vaccines for the poorest of the countries even while the rich ones are opening up societies and are vaccinating the young population who are not at any great risk from the disease said the World Health Organization on Friday while condemning a global failure of mass vaccination.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that with the Delta variant of the coronavirus spreading globally, the situation is Africa is “so dangerous” as there has been an almost 40 per cent week on week rise last week in the cases of fresh infections and deaths.
“Our world is failing, as the global community we are failing,” he said at a news conference.
Countries, that Tedros did not name, were severely criticised by him for their reluctance to share doses of vaccines with low-income countries. Tedros is himself an Ethiopian, comparing the current situation in the poorer countries to that of the HIV/AIDS crisis, he recalled how there were some arguments back then that there was no competence among African nations to use complicated treatments.
“I mean that attitude has to be a thing of the past,” Tedros said. “The problem now is a supply problem, just give us the vaccines.”
“The difference is between the haves and the have nots which is now completely exposing the unfairness of our world – the injustice, the inequality, let’s face it,” he said.
WHO’s top emergency expert Mike Ryan said that the many of the developing nations fare much better compared to industrialised countries in implementing out mass vaccination among their their populations against infectious diseases ranging from cholera to polio.
“The level of paternalism, the level of colonial mindset that say ‘we can’t give you something because we’re afraid you won’t use it’. I mean seriously, in the middle of a pandemic?” he said.
Since February, 90 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to 132 countries have been delivered by COVAX which is a program that is run jointly by the GAVI vaccine alliance and the WHO. The effort however has faced some major supply issues since export of vaccines was suspended by India.
“We have through COVAX this month zero doses of AstraZeneca) vaccines, zero doses of SII vaccines (Serum Institute of India), zero doses of J & J (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine,” said Bruce Aylward, WHO senior adviser.
“The situation right now is dire.”
(Adapted from Reuters.com)