Story at a glance
- World Health Organization Leader Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday that “greed” is driving persistent vaccine inequality.
- Tedros said that anticipated booster shots could exacerbate inequities.
- “Some countries and regions are actually ordering millions of booster doses before other countries have had supplies to vaccinate their health workers and most vulnerable,” he added.
World Health Organization Leader Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus said Monday that “greed” is driving persistent vaccine inequality as the highly infectious delta variant creates a “catastrophic wave of cases” across the globe.
“We’re in the midst of a growing two-track pandemic where the haves and have-nots within and between countries are increasingly divergent,” Tedros said, adding that the delta variant, which has spread to 104 countries, is exponentially increasing the number of hospitalizations.
“Even countries that successfully managed to ward off the early waves of the virus through public health measures alone, are now in the midst of devastating outbreaks,” he added.
Data shows that around 25 percent of the world’s population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Yet roughly 1 percent of people from low-income countries are partially vaccinated. Nearly 68 percent of U.S. adults had had one at least one shot.
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Tedros added that anticipated booster shots could exacerbate inequities, as various countries ready their supplies before vulnerable populations in other regions receive their vaccinations.
“Some countries and regions are actually ordering millions of booster doses before other countries have had supplies to vaccinate their health workers and most vulnerable”, he said, further arguing that the global community is “making conscious choices right now not to protect those most in need.”
Global leaders at the Group of Seven Summit (G-7) in June pledged 870 million additional vaccine doses to support equitable access.
The WHO leader’s comments echo recent statements by White House Chief Medical Advisor Anthony Fauci, who maintains vaccine disparities could soon leave the U.S. resembling “two Americas” as vaccine hesitancy stalls vaccination rates in parts of the country.
“When you have such a low level of vaccination superimposed upon a variant that has a high degree of efficiency of spread, what you are going to see among undervaccinated regions — be that states, cities or counties — you’re going to see these individual types of blips,” Fauci told CNN June 30.
“It’s almost like it’s going to be two Americas,” the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases said, adding that he thinks vaccinations make the scenario “entirely avoidable, entirely preventable.”
WHO data shows there have been more than 186 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 4 million deaths.
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