WHO seeks to finish vaccine inequity

Geneva, May 24

The Covid-19 pandemic is being perpetuated by a “scandalous inequity” in vaccine distribution, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday as he set new targets for protecting people in the poorest countries.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that no country should assume it’s “out of the woods” no matter its vaccination rate as long as the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants spread elsewhere.

Deciding factor in distribution

A small group of nations that make and buy the majority of the world’s vaccines control the fate of the world. — Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO chief

“The world remains in a very dangerous situation,” Tedros said at the opening of the annual assembly of health ministers from its 194 member states.

“As of today, more cases have been reported so far this year than in the whole of 2020. On current trends, the number of deaths will overtake last year’s total within the next three weeks. This is very tragic,” he said.

He said more than 75 per cent of all vaccines had been administered in just 10 countries.

“There is no diplomatic way to say it: a small group of countries that make and buy the majority of the world’s vaccines control the fate of the rest of the world. The Covax facility, run by WHO and the GAVI vaccine alliance, has delivered 72 million vaccine doses to 125 countries and economies since February — barely sufficient for 1 per cent of their population,” Tedros said.

He urged countries to donate vaccine doses to Covax to enable 10 per cent of the populations of all countries to be inoculated by September and 30 per cent by year-end. This meant vaccinating 250 million more people in just four months, he said.

“This is crucial to stop the disease and death, keep our healthcare workers safe, reopen our societies and economies,” Tedros said.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in separate pre-recorded remarks to the assembly, called for the UN agency’s funding to be improved and backed the idea of a new international treaty to prevent pandemics. — Reuters

Dogs can sniff out infection: Study

London: The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine led collaborative research with the charity Medical Detection Dogs and Durham University to find that specially trained dogs can rapidly and non-invasively detect Covid-19. PTI

Satyarthi’s appeal for affected children

New Delhi: Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi addressed delegates at the 74th World Health Assembly virtually and called for action for the children living in poverty. “The world has suffered as one, but we have not suffered equally,” he said. TNS

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