Covid vaccine divide between rich and poor nations is worsening, warns WHO

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The gap is widening every day, said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Geneva, Switzerland:

The gap between rich and poor nations in the Covid-19 vaccine is worsening day by day, the World Health Organization warned Monday, insisting that not distributing the doses could cost the world economy trillions of dollars.

The WHO said it needed $ 26 billion this year for its program, which aims to accelerate the development, procurement and fair delivery of vaccines, treatments and tests to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

“The rich countries are introducing vaccines while the least developed countries in the world watch and wait,” complained WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“With every day that goes by, the gap between the world‘s owners and non-owners is widening,” he said at a press conference.

“Vaccine nationalism could serve short-term policy goals. However, it is in every nation’s medium- and long-term economic interest to promote vaccine justice.”

Tedros cited a study commissioned by the Research Foundation of the International Chamber of Commerce, which represents more than 45 million companies in over 100 countries.

“Vaccine nationalism could cost the world economy as much as $ 9.2 trillion, and nearly half of that – $ 4.5 trillion – would be in the richest economies,” he said.

The report said that the financial damage caused by the pandemic in rich countries can only be repaired if the effects of the crisis in developing countries due to the interconnectedness of economies around the world are also addressed.

Tedros said investing in what is known as the ACT Accelerator program to contain the pandemic on a shared and equitable basis is therefore not a charity but merely “economic common sense.”

100 million reported cases are groundbreaking

Tedros said that exactly a year ago fewer than 1,500 cases of Covid-19 had been reported to the WHO, including only 23 outside of China, where the first clusters of infections were discovered.

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Since then, more than 2.1 million deaths have been recorded.

“This week we expect 100 million reported cases,” said Tedros.

“Numbers can deafen us to what they represent: every death is someone’s parent, someone’s partner, someone’s child, someone’s friend.

“Vaccines give us hope, which is why every life we ‚Äč‚Äčlose now is even more tragic. We need to take courage, take hope, and take action.”

He urged people to stick to the basics of physical distancing, hand washing, crowd avoidance, and wearing masks while waiting for their turn to get vaccinated.

Michael Ryan, WHO’s emergency director, said only one disease, smallpox, has ever been eradicated. The availability of vaccines against Covid-19 does not mean that the disease can be wiped off the ground.

“The bar for success is reducing the ability of this virus to kill, hospitalize, and destroy our economic and social lives,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bruce Aylward, head of WHO’s ACT Accelerator Hub, said the goal of vaccination is simply to take the heat away from the pandemic by the end of 2021.

“But it will require some difficult decisions as to how we can use and allocate the currently scarce product fairly – and that will take a few months.”

(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)

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