The WHO boss on Monday accused “certain rich countries of undermining” the equitable distribution system for anti-Covid vaccines, Covax, by persisting in approaching manufacturers directly to have access to more precious doses.
“Some wealthy countries are currently approaching manufacturers to ensure access to additional vaccine doses, which has an effect on contracts with Covax, and the number of doses allocated to Covax has been reduced to because of this, “said Managing Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a joint press conference by videoconference with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The Covax system was set up to try to prevent rich countries from monopolizing all the doses of vaccine that are still manufactured in too small a quantity to meet global demand. In particular, it includes a financing mechanism that should allow 92 low and middle income economies to have access to vaccines.
But the shortage of vaccines means that the first distributions to poor countries should not take place before the end of the month when in many rich countries vaccination campaigns began at the end of 2020.
Responding to a question on the substantial commitments made by the United States, the European Union and Germany to significantly increase their contribution to Covax, the Director-General showed his frustration. “Having the money doesn’t mean anything, if you can’t use it to buy vaccines,” he said.
“And we can only deliver vaccines to Covax member countries if the rich countries cooperate by respecting the contracts entered into by Covax”, he insisted, urging these countries, which he did not quote, of s ” ensure that their behavior does not undermine the distribution system overseen by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the vaccine alliance (Gavi) among others. And to let go: “but I don’t think they are asking the question”.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier also pleaded for vaccines to be more widely distributed, for moral reasons but also because it is in everyone’s best interest to eradicate the virus quickly, to prevent variants, sometimes more dangerous, do not continue to flourish everywhere. But, he acknowledged, “governments have first and foremost an obligation to their people.”
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