Geneva, Aug 18 (EFE).- The World Health Organization on Wednesday urged American pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson to halt Covid-19 vaccine shipments to rich countries from its South African manufacturing plants, saying those exports are incomprehensible in the face of vaccine scarcity in Africa.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on J&J to urgently prioritize distribution in the African continent before supplying wealthy countries that already have enough doses.
He also asked Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche to share its technology and knowledge related to tocilizumab, a medicine the WHO recommended in June for severe Covid-19 cases.
The WHO expressed concern after Roche on Tuesday warned of a global shortage of the arthritis drug.
In the past week, confirmed Covid-19 cases have increased by 4.4 million, and Tedros warned that the spread of the Delta variant is outpacing the global response to the pandemic, as hospitalizations and deaths grow in areas with low vaccination rates.
Tedros lamented that WHO demands for equitable vaccine distribution have been ignored and that poor countries are still very short on vaccines.
Just 10 countries account for 75 percent of all Covid-19 vaccines administered worldwide, with low-income countries having barely vaccinated 2 percent of their populations, he said.
He reiterated the WHO’s request that countries preparing to offer vaccine boosters reconsider those plans and instead help nations that have not even finished vaccinating health care workers and vulnerable segments of their populations. EFE