WHO Condemns Wealthier Nations for Hoarding Vaccines, 'Prolonging the Pandemic'

© AP Photo / Anja NiedringhausWorld Health Organization logo on its headquarters in Geneva
World Health Organization logo on its headquarters in Geneva - Sputnik International, 1920, 08.09.2021
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Last month, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, called on wealthier member-nations to establish a two-month moratorium on COVID-19 booster shots and assist in expanding the scope of vaccine donations. At the time, about 75% of the 4.8 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses delivered went to only 10 countries.
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO's COVID-19 technical lead, had a few "blunt" words on Tuesday for member-nations continuing to stockpile and "hoard" COVID-19 vaccines amid the clear inequality in global supply.

"This is not just unfair, it's not just immoral," the epidemiologist said during a Q&A session, "it's prolonging the pandemic, and it is resulting in people dying."

Kerkhove asserted that the "hoarding" of COVID-19 vaccines is negatively contributing to the death toll, just as the hoarding of personal protective equipment did at the beginning of the pandemic.
As for supply redistribution, countries that choose to issue COVID-19 vaccines to another country should not consider their act charitable because "we are completely in this together."

Earlier in the discussion, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, noted that "each country is in its own set of struggles" regarding vaccine distribution and general hesitancy toward receiving it.
"Some countries have lots of available [vaccines], but they're not able to get people to take the vaccine," he said. "And there are other countries - many in the south - who are desperate to get a vaccine and can't get access to it.
Britain's former Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks at an event in Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain January 17, 2019 - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.08.2021
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Gordon Brown Urges Wealthy Nations 'to End Their Stranglehold' on Vaccine Deliveries to Africa
Ryan emphasized that the world needs to "recommit" to combating COVID-19, particularly before winter for the northern hemisphere.
"All of the indications are that this virus still has a lot of kinetic energy - it has a lot of momentum," he said, warning that as the virus mutates, its variants will continue to "pick off" unvaccinated individuals.
WHO data published earlier this month showed that 42 African nations are on track to miss the global goal of vaccinating the most vulnerable 10% of the population against COVID-19. However, a total of nine countries, including Morocco, Tunisia and South Africa have already reached the target.
"Although Africa’s third wave peaked in July, the decline in new cases is at a glacial pace — far slower than in previous waves," said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. "The pandemic is still raging in Africa and we must not let our guard down. Every hour 26 Africans die of COVID-19."
Moeti said that while the current inequity is "deeply disturbing," there have been upticks in COVID vaccine shipments and commitments, which "shows that a fairer, more just global distribution of vaccines looks possible."
The organization's continued pleas come days after former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown chided wealthier nations for committing "moral outrage" by stockpiling COVID-19 vaccines while others struggled to receive shipments.
"We are in a new ‘arms’ race – to get vaccines into people as quickly as possible – but this is an arms race where the West have a stranglehold on the vaccine supplies," said Brown, who serves as a special envoy for the United Nations.
He also called on the US and other G7 nations to move their stockpiled COVID-19 vaccines out of warehouses and into Africa and other areas of low availability.
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