The World Health Organization on Wednesday said that the coronavirus pandemic would go on till the end of 2022 because poorer countries are not getting vaccines, BBC reported.
Dr Bruce Aylward, senior advisor to the WHO director-general, pointed out that only 5% of Africa’s population had been vaccinated so far. The continent accounted for 2.6% doses administered globally. He urged other countries to limit their procurement of coronavirus vaccines so that pharmaceutical companies could prioritise low-income nations.
“I can tell you we’re not on track,” Aylward said. “We really need to speed it up or you know what? This pandemic is going to go on for a year longer than it needs to.”
The People’s Vaccine – an alliance of charities across the world – said that only one in seven doses of the pharmaceutical companies and wealthy countries are reaching their destinations in poorer nations. The charities said that the majority of doses were going to high-income or upper middle-income countries.
The group of charities also criticised the United Kingdom and Canada for availing vaccines through Covax.
Covax, which is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the WHO, aims to speed up the development and manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines. It also works to guarantee fair and equitable access to the shots for every country in the world.
Rohit Malpani, the global health advisor at Oxfam – a confederation of 20 British charities – said that while Canada was allowed to get vaccines through the Covax route, it was “morally indefensible” that the country had obtained a million doses through bilateral agreements with other nations.
“They [Canada and UK] should not have been acquiring these doses from Covax,” he said. “It’s nothing better than double-dipping and means that poorer countries which are already at the back of the queue, will end up waiting longer.”
WHO has also been critical of the countries that are administering the booster doses of coronavirus vaccines when a few other nations have been struggling to administer a single dose.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanon Ghebreyesus in September had called for a moratorium on administering a booster shots of coronavirus vaccines till at least the end of the year.
The WHO chief had said that poorer countries were “not the second or third priority”, and that high-risk groups in these countries have the same right to be protected as those in wealthy nations.
In August, Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa, had said that the decision by some of the richer countries to roll out Covid-19 booster shots for their citizens makes a mockery of vaccine equity.
Globally, 672 crore doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered, according to Johns Hopkins University.