WHO warns of ‘moral failure’ over vaccine distribution as Europe faces delays

Geneva/Vienna/Berlin, Jan 18 (efe-epa).- The World Health Organization on Monday highlighted the stark inequalities in the global distribution of coronavirus vaccines, with poorer countries being largely left out of early roll outs while developed nations press on with their own inoculation schemes.

The warning comes as governments in Europe complain of delays in the delivery of Covid-19 inoculations.

Of the 39 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine that have already been administered around the world, only 25 — just 0.00006 percent of the total available supply — have been inoculated to people in lowest income countries, the WHO director general said.

“The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in the opening address of the WHO Executive Committee, which is meeting over the next nine days.

Tedros pointed out that vaccines for the 2009 influenza A pandemic did not reach developing countries until after that crisis had ended, and that drugs for HIV carriers reached patients in poor nations a decade later than those in rich ones, warning that the same mistakes must not be repeated.

“The situation is compounded by the fact that most manufacturers have prioritized regulatory approval in rich countries where the profits are highest, rather than submitting full dossiers to WHO,” Tedros said.

“Not only does this me-first approach leave the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people at risk, it’s also self defeating.

“Ultimately these actions will only prolong the pandemic,” he said.

The WHO has set a goal of at least 20 percent of the world’s population being vaccinated by 2021, although it is believed that to achieve herd immunity that will definitively defeat the SARS-SoV-2 coronavirus, 70 percent of the global population will need to be inoculated in the following years.

The 39 million people vaccinated so far in 49 countries represent only 0.5 percent of the world’s population.

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