Covid-19 vaccine: Amidst concerns of hoarding by rich nations, WHO cautions against ‘vaccine nationalism’

By: |
August 19, 2020 1:05 PM

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was on Tuesday quoted as saying that vaccine nationalism should be prevented. He also said that sharing the limited supply of the approved vaccine globally and strategically would benefit every country.

Led by the WHO, the programme has evinced interest from Gavi vaccine alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

Amidst the Covid-19 vaccine race among different countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) has cautioned the member nations about the risks of “vaccine nationalism” and urged countries to join the forces to ensure all countries—rich and poor—have equitable access to the vaccine, news agency Reuters reported. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was on Tuesday quoted as saying that vaccine nationalism should be prevented. He also said that sharing the limited supply of the approved vaccine globally and strategically would benefit every country.

The apex world body on health affairs has expressed concern that the rich and developed countries might deprive the poorer nations of the Covid-19 vaccine by outbidding them by buying the initial stocks of the vaccine at higher prices.

What led WHO to express its concerns?

Starting from the United States, developed countries like the UK, Japan, and the European Union have struck multiple deals with many pharma companies that are developing the Covid-19 vaccine to get the first batch of the approved Covid-19 vaccine. Even as the world awaits for an effective vaccine, agreements have been made with pharma companies like Pfizer Inc, AstraZeneca Plc, Johnson & Johnson among others. The Donald Trump administration has alone more than $11 billion for the development, testing and securing the first delivery of the vaccines for the American population.

What is WHO’s Covax programme?

In an effort to ensure that poor and economically backward nations also get their hands on the life-saving vaccine, the WHO has also started the Covax global vaccine facility. Under this facility, the WHO will tie-up with non-profit organisations and NGOs and try to pool funds from the developed countries to provide vaccines to the poor nations. The WHO has aimed at providing around 2 billion Covid-19 vaccines in the global South by the end of year 2021. While the details of the programme remain to be clinched, the WHO has set up the deadline of August 31 for member nations to join the programme. So far more than 92 poorer countries have joined the programme while 80 richer nations have also become a part of the programme. Led by the WHO, the programme has evinced interest from Gavi vaccine alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

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