The world is on the brink of a “catastrophic moral failure” if rich countries hog COVID-19 vaccine doses while the poorest suffer, the head of the WHO said Monday.
World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus denounced the “me-first” attitude of wealthy nations and also blasted vaccine manufacturers for chasing regulatory approval in rich countries rather than submitting their data to the WHO to green-light vaccine use globally.
In a speech in Geneva opening a WHO executive board meeting, he said the promise of worldwide equitable access to coronavirus vaccines was now at serious risk.
Tedros said 39 million doses of coronavirus vaccines had been administered so far in at least 49 higher income countries.
Meanwhile, “just 25 doses have been given in one lowest income country. Not 25 million; not 25,000; just 25,” he said.
“I need to be blunt. The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure — and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries.”
He said even as some countries pronounced reassuring words on equitable access, they were prioritising their own deals with manufacturers, driving up prices and trying to jump the queue.