World Health Organization (WHO) Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Monday said some of the world’s wealthiest nations are hampering efforts by his agency and its partners to get vaccines to world’s poorest nations.
Tedros took part in a joint, virtual news conference, along with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to talk about the WHO- facilitated international vaccination initiative COVAX, designed to obtain and equitably distribute COVID-19 vaccines throughout the world.
Speaking from WHO headquarters in Geneva, Tedros said some high-income countries are entering into contracts with vaccine manufacturers that undermine the deals that COVAX has with those same companies, reducing the number of doses COVAX can buy. He did not name the countries.
The WHO chief said making sure there are enough vaccines to be shared with the world’s poorest nations helps everyone.
“This is not a matter of charity. It’s a matter of epidemiology. Unless we end the pandemic everywhere, we will not end it anywhere,” he said.
Tedros said it is in the interest of all countries, including high-income countries, to ensure that health workers, older people and other at-risk groups are first in line for vaccines globally.
The WHO chief reiterated the comments during his regular news briefing from Geneva. Top U.S. Infectious disease expert and presidential health adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci took part in the briefing remotely from the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
In his comments, Fauci agreed with Tedros’s call for all countries to support the efforts of the COVAX facility. He said there is a need for vaccines to be produced and distributed in an equitable way.
“An outbreak in any part of the world, is an outbreak for the entire world,” Fauci said, noting the world’s nations must commit to helping distribute vaccine to allow of global control of the pandemic.