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18 Jan 2021 | 12:26

WHO warns of potential 'catastrophic moral failure' in vaccine rollouts

(Sharecast News) - The head of the World Health Organisation called for a more equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines globally, warning that it was more important than ever given the appearance of new strains of the novel coronavirus.

WHO Director General, General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned of an otherwise potential "catastrophic moral failure" in the making.

Such a failure, he said, could easily become "another brick in the wall for inequality between the world's haves and have-nots."

Ghebreyesus, who has been heavily criticised for the WHO's poor monitoring of the pandemic in its initial stages.

On 15 January, the WHO's International Health Regulations Committee had also called for accelerating so-called 'technology transfers' which it seemed to believe were needed in order to speed up the production and deployment of Covid-19 vaccines and ancillary supplies, although it did not specify which technologies it was referring to.

It also argued against the introduction of proofs of vaccination or immunity for international travel, arguing that "critical unknowns" remained about vaccines' efficacy and their limited supply.

Nonetheless, as many others had already noted in the past, in their efforts to secure vaccine supplies, and given that it was not yet know which vaccines would actually work, many countries had in fact secured far more supplies than they might end up needing.

The WHO head therefore also called on countries to share their excess doses with COVAX, the global vaccine initiative, once their own health workers and older populations had been inoculated.

COVAX was aiming to deliver 2bn vaccine doses to all countries - but in practice mainly lower and medium income ones - by the end of 2021.

Ghebreyesus reportedly added: "It's not right that younger, healthier adults in rich countries are vaccinated before health workers and older people in poorer countries."
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