WHO chief laments ‘shocking imbalance’ in vaccines for poor countries
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Friday that there is a “shocking imbalance” in coronavirus vaccine distribution for poorer countries.
“On average in high-income countries, almost one in four people has received a COVID-19 vaccine. In low-income countries, it’s one in more than 500,” Tedros said during a briefing, Reuters reported.
The COVAX program that is focused on getting vaccines to developing nations has stalled in its distribution.
The program wants to deliver 2 billion doses of the coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, but has so far only delivered 38.4 million doses to 102 countries.
The delays caused people in over 60 countries to get their first shot but miss getting their second shot, The Associated Press reported.
Additional delays have occurred because the COVAX program relied heavily on the AstraZeneca vaccine that is being hit with safety concerns over the formation of rare blood clots in some who have received that vaccine.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently called on rich countries to donate more vaccine doses to poorer nations saying the poorer nations will face a “profound economic tragedy” without the help.
Ghebreyesus has previously asked richer countries to donate 10 million vaccine doses to the COVAX program for developing countries, but the calls have largely gone unanswered.
Many countries in the European Union have been hit by a slow vaccination rollout.
The U.S. has said they are focusing on vaccinating all of its citizens first then ensuring that neighboring countries Canada and Mexico are vaccinated.