‘Me-First Approach’ towards vaccine hurting the poorest – WHO Chief

Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday that the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure, in distributing the vaccines fairly; and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries.

Tedros highlighted this during his opening remarks of WHO’s annual Executive Board meeting.The inaccessibility of COVID-19 vaccine in poorer countries around the world that is caused by the absence of generosity among powerful countries.

He said “as the first vaccines begin to be deployed, the promise of equitable access is at serious risk”. He added “more than 39 million doses of vaccine have now been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries…Just 25 doses have been given in one lowest-income country…Not 25 million; not 25 thousand; 25”

“Not only does this me-first approach leave the world’s poorest and most vulnerable at risk, it is also self-defeating,” He cautioned that ultimately these actions will only prolong the pandemic.

“It’s not too late. I call on all countries to work together in solidarity to ensure that within the first 100 days of this year, vaccination of health workers & older people is underway in all countries.”

He presented three ways that could change the rules of the game:

“We call on countries with bilateral contracts – and control of supply – to be transparent on these contracts with COVAX, including on volumes, pricing and delivery dates”

“We call on vaccine producers to provide WHO with full data for regulatory review in real time, to accelerate approvals”

“We call on all countries introducing vaccines to only use vaccines that meet rigorous international standards for safety, efficacy and quality, and to accelerate readiness for deployment”

Indian Health Minister wants all to coordinate:

Meanwhile, Dr.Harsh Vardan, Union Health Minister of India who chaired the 148th session of WHO’s Executive Board Meet said “I have mentioned on earlier occasions and would like to reiterate that as Chairperson of the Executive Board, my focus is on equitable, affordable and accessible health care for all particularly to protect the health of those without wealth,”

“…While each country has its unique approach in dealing with public health based on the strengths of their existing health systems and national policies and programs, I am sure that together we will continue to bring about improvements, aligned with our collective discussions.”

Today, I call upon all of you to renew your commitment to help people and societies in special situations, especially the weakest and most vulnerable and recognize that many Governments have offered their assistance and support to others in a spirit of solidarity and mutual support.

Today, let us also pledge our commitment to the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development and continue relentlessly to work to mobilize a coordinated global response to the pandemic.”