"The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure" - WHO chief

Monday, 18 January 2021 - 21:49

"The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure" in the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday, adding that "the promise of equitable access is at serious risk."

He noted 44 bilateral deals were signed last year and at least 12 have already been signed this year.

“This could delay COVAX deliveries and create exactly the scenario COVAX was designed to avoid, with hoarding, a chaotic market, an uncoordinated response, and continued social and economic disruption,” he said.

Such a “me-first approach” left the world’s poorest and most vulnerable at risk, he said at the opening of the body’s annual Executive Board meeting in a virtual format.

"More than 39 million doses of vaccine have now been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries. Just 25 doses have been given in one lowest-income country. Not 25 million; not 25 thousand; just 25," Tedros said at the opening the WHO Executive Board meeting.

"I need to be blunt... the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries," he added.

"Ultimately, these actions will only prolong the pandemic, the restrictions needed to contain it, and human and economic suffering," he said. 

The WHO chief added that "vaccine equity is not just a moral imperative, it is a strategic and economic imperative," and called for a fairer vaccine distribution across the world.

A report released in early December by the People’s Vaccine Alliance warned that as much as 90 percent of the population in dozens of poorer countries will miss out on the coronavirus vaccine.

In its report, the alliance said rich countries have hoarded enough doses to vaccinate their entire populations nearly three times over, leaving some 67 poor countries with only enough to vaccinate one in 10 people.

source: foreign media reports