Geneva: Rich countries are opening up societies and vaccinating young people who are not at great risk from COVID-19, while the poorest countries cruelly lack doses, the World Health Organization said on Friday, condemning a global failure.
The situation in Africa, where new infections and deaths jumped by nearly 40% last week compared to the previous week, is "so dangerous" as the Delta variant spreads globally, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
"Our world is failing, as the global community we are failing," he told a news conference.
Tedros, who is Ethiopian, chastised unnamed countries for reluctance to share doses with low-income countries. He compared it to the HIV/AIDS crisis, when some argued that African nations were unable to use complicated treatments. "I mean that attitude has to be a thing of the past," Tedros said. "The problem now is a supply problem, just give us the vaccines."
Many developing countries are much better than industrialised countries in carrying out mass vaccination of their populations against infectious diseases from cholera to polio, WHO's top emergency expert Mike Ryan said. "The level of paternalism, the level of colonial mindset that say 'we can't give you something because we're afraid you won't use it'. I mean seriously, in the middle of a pandemic," he aasked.
According to a report by Al Jazeera, so far at least 2.7 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide with 40 million shots given every day, as per Our World in Data, a non-profit online scientific publication based at the University of Oxford.
Of the global doses administered, most still remain among wealthier nations. North America makes up about five percent of the world’s population but accounts for 16 percent of those who received at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot. Europeans make up 17 percent of global vaccine recipients despite comprising around 10 percent of the world’s population.
Only 1.7 percent of vaccines (45 million) have been given in Africa, despite the continent making up 17 percent (1.3 billion) of the world’s population.
COVAX, run jointly by the GAVI vaccine alliance and the WHO, has delivered 90 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to 132 countries since February, but has faced major supply issues since India suspended vaccine exports.
"We have through COVAX this month zero doses of AstraZeneca vaccines, zero doses of SII vaccines (Serum Institute of India), zero doses of J & J (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine," said Bruce Aylward, WHO senior adviser.