The head of the World Health Organization has used Expo 2020 Dubai as a platform to praise global cooperation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic but said more must be done to ensure equal access to vaccines, especially those in poorer nations.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the WHO, was speaking as part of the Fourth Aqdar World Summit at Dubai Exhibition Center, held on the sidelines of the Expo.
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During a video address, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “More than six billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide and almost one-third of the world’s population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but those numbers mask an inequality: low-income countries have received less than 0.5 per cent of the world’s vaccines.”
In pointed out that in Africa, just five per cent of people are fully vaccinated.
“WHO has set a target of 40 per cent of every single country to be vaccinated [against COVID-19] by the end of this year and 70 percent by the middle of 2022, said Dr Ghebreyesus. “Those targets are achievable, but only with the cooperation of the countries and companies that control the global supply of vaccines.”
“The pandemic has shown that the world’s vaccine manufacturing capacity is too limited and concentrated.”
“Investing in sustainable and secure vaccine manufacturing capacity is critical for pandemic preparedness, but also for ensuring a reliable supply of medicines and other health technologies.”
This, he said, requires international, public and private sector coordination to share knowledge and direct finance in technology capacity
“Ultimately, the pandemic has shown that health is not a cost, but an investment in healthier, safer, fairer and more sustainable futures for all.”
Earlier this week, Dr. Bruce Aylward, senior leader at the WHO, said he believed that failing to provide vaccine shots to poorer countries would mean that the COVID-19 pandemic could “easily drag on deep into 2022.”
“I can tell you we’re not on track,” said Alyward. “We really need to speed it up or you know what?”
“This pandemic is going to go on for a year longer than it needs to.”
He appealed to wealthy countries, urging them to give up their places in the queue for vaccine shots so that pharma companies could prioritize the lowest-income nations instead.
This year’s Aqdar World Summit, which is being held under the theme ‘Positive Global Citizenship – Empowerment of Sustainable Investment Opportunities’, continues until 30 October at Dubai Exhibition Center.