WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Photo: AFP

As the world's COVID-19 tally rises, and the race to create viable vaccines to deal with the deadly virus continues, World Health Organization Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Sunday called for solidarity. Acknowledging that every country wanted to protect their citizens, he also warned against "vaccine nationalism", stating that this would only prolong the pandemic.

As per reports that quoted the WHO Chief's opening address at the World Health Summit in Berlin, Tedros had noted that while it was natural for countries to want to hoard the virus and protect its citizens, it would be more effective to "vaccinate some people in all countries rather than all people in some countries." He also noted, that if the distribution of vaccines was in direct co-relation to a country's wealth, and poorer countries missed out, recovery from the pandemic may be further derailed.

""How we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, and whether we are ready to take on the challenges of the future, depends on our actions today. Working together in solidarity, we can save lives, stabilize health systems, and drive a global recovery," he said.

This is not the first time that such a comment has been made about the practice of "vaccinationalism". Days earlier, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had hit out at countries making "side deals" to have the vaccine exclusively for their own populations, calling it both unfair and "self defeating".

"We are working to advance treatments and therapies as a global public good and backing efforts for a people's vaccine available and affordable everywhere. Yet some countries are reportedly making side deals exclusively for their own populations," Guterres had said.

Global organisation Oxfam has warned that wealthy nations representing just 13 per cent of the world's population have already cornered more than half (51 per cent) of the promised doses of leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

(With inputs from agencies)

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