World

WHO: Vaccinating health workers top priority, not advising on Olympics

GENEVA: Although the World Health Organisation (WHO) is providing risk management advice to the International Olympic Committee and Japanese authorities regarding the holding of the Tokyo Olympics, its top priority is vaccinating health workers worldwide against Covid-19, its top emergency expert said on Monday.

Dr Mike Ryan said: "We have to face the realities of what we face now. There is not enough vaccine right now to even serve those who are most at risk.

"We face a crisis now on a global scale that requires front-line health workers, those older people and those most vulnerable in our societies to access vaccine first." The Games are scheduled to open on July 23.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the Covid-19 vaccine divide between rich and poor nations is worsening by the day and the failure to distribute doses fairly could cost the global economy trillions of dollars.

The WHO said it needed US$26 billion (S$34.5 billion) this year for its programme aimed at speeding up the development, procurement and equitable delivery of vaccines.

"Rich countries are rolling out vaccines, while the world's least-developed countries watch and wait. Every day that passes, the divide grows larger between the world's haves and have-nots," he said.

Meanwhile, a WHO panel of experts recommended yesterday that the Moderna vaccine be given in two doses at an interval of 28 days, which could be extended under exceptional circumstances to 42 days. The independent experts said that the vaccine not be used on pregnant women unless they are health workers exposed to the virus or have medical conditions putting them at high risk.- REUTERS, AFP

WORLD