WHO slams rich states for hogging vaccines

GENEVA: The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday blasted wealthy countries for not only hogging Covid-19 vaccines but in doing so, hindering the pathway for poorer nations to get them too.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said some rich countries' direct deals with manufacturers had meant that previously-agreed vaccine allocations for poorer countries, via the Covax programme, were being reduced.

The WHO chief said money was available to procure doses for some of the poorest countries, following fresh contributions from the US, the European Union (EU) and Germany - but it was worthless if there was nothing to buy.

Dr Tedros urged wealthy nations to check whether their own deals with pharmaceutical companies were undermining Covax, which poorer countries are relying on.

"Even if you have the money, if you cannot use the money to buy vaccines, having the money doesn't mean anything," he said.

The ONE Campaign said last week that members of the G7 top industrialised nations along with the rest of the EU plus Australia had collectively bought nearly 1.25 billion more doses than they needed.

The first wave of Covax vaccines are to be shipped out between late February and the end of June. Some 145 participating economies are set to receive 337.2 million doses - enough to vaccinate a little over 3 per cent of their combined populations. Covax has said it hopes to raise the figure to up to 27 per cent in lower-income countries by the end of December. - AFP