WHO chief: Vaccine inequity biggest obstacle to ending pandemic

GENEVA (Bernama): Vaccine inequity is the biggest obstacle to ending the global coronavirus pandemic, says WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"Vaccine inequity is the world's biggest obstacle to ending this pandemic and recovering from Covid-19," said Tedros, who is in the Japanese capital to attend the Tokyo Olympics.

The Anadolu Agency reported that Tedros said this in a statement on Thursday (July 22) with data released by the UN Development Program (UNDP) and the University of Oxford.

On the data, the group found that Covid-19 vaccine inequity will have a lasting and profound impact on socio-economic recovery in low-and lower-middle-income countries without urgent action to boost supply and assure equitable access for every country, including through dose-sharing.

"Economically, epidemiologically and morally, it is in all countries' best interest to use the latest available data to make lifesaving vaccines available to all," it added

The group also said that accelerated manufacturing and sharing enough vaccine doses with low-income countries could have added US$38 billion to their GDP forecast for 2021 if they had similar vaccination rates as high-income countries.

It added that at a time when richer countries have paid trillions in stimulus to prop up flagging economies, now is the time to ensure vaccine doses are shared quickly,

The group said that barriers should be removed to increase vaccine manufacturing and secure financing support so vaccines are distributed equitably for a truly global economic recovery to occur.

"In some low- and middle-income countries, less than 1% of the population is vaccinated - this is contributing to a two-track recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic," said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, who called for "swift, collective action."

Steiner said the Global Dashboard for Covid-19 Vaccine Equity - an initiative by the UNDP, WHO, and the Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government - combines the latest Covid-19 vaccination information and socio-economic data.

According to the Anadolu Agency, new data from entities - including the IMF, World Bank, Unicef and the vaccine alliance Gavi - show richer countries are projected to vaccinate quicker and recover economically quicker from Covid-19.

At the same time, poorer countries have not been able to vaccinate their health workers and most at-risk population and may not achieve pre-Covid-19 levels of growth until 2024.

"Meanwhile, Delta and other variants are driving some countries to reinstate strict public health social measures. This is further worsening the social, economic and health impact, especially for the most vulnerable and marginalized people,” said the groups

The groups also said a high price per coronavirus vaccine dose relative to other vaccines and delivery costs - including the health workforce surge - could place a massive strain on fragile health systems and undermine routine immunization and essential health services. - Bernama

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