• Monday, Dec 06, 2021
  • Last Update : 01:15 am

WHO: Pandemic will drag on into 2022

  • Published at 12:44 pm October 21st, 2021
World Health Organization (WHO) officials attend the arrival of the first batch of vaccines against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) at the Kigali international airport in Kigali, Rwanda March 3, 2021 Reuters

Less than 5% of Africa's population have been vaccinated, compared to 40% on most other continents

The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that the Covid-19 pandemic will last a year longer than it should since poorer countries are not receiving the vaccines they require.

The Covid problem could "easily stretch on long into 2022," according to Dr Bruce Aylward, senior leader at the WHO.

In Africa, only about 5% of the population has been vaccinated, compared to 40% on most other continents, reports BBC.

More than 10 million immunizations have been supplied to countries in need by the United Kingdom.

It has made a total pledge of $100 million.

Dr Aylward urged wealthier countries to drop out of the vaccine queue so that pharmaceutical companies can focus on the world's poorest nations.

He said wealthy countries needed to "take stock" of their pledges to donate made at meetings like the G7 conference in St Ives this summer.

"I can tell you we're not on the right track," he admitted. "We have no choice except to speed things up, or otherwise, what are we going to do? This pandemic will go a year longer than it should."

According to new numbers revealed by the People's Vaccine, only one in every seven of the doses supplied by pharmaceutical companies and wealthier countries reaches their intended recipients in poorer countries.

The great majority of Covid vaccinations have been provided to people in high- and upper-middle-income countries. Only 2.6% of all dosages are provided in Africa.

The coalition of charities, which includes Oxfam and UNAids, also chastised Canada and the United Kingdom for acquiring vaccines for their own populations through Covax, the United Nations-backed global vaccine distribution program.

The UK received 539,370 Pfizer doses earlier this year, whereas Canada received slightly under a million AstraZeneca doses, according to official records.

Covax's original concept was that all countries, especially wealthy ones, would be able to obtain vaccines from its pool. However, once they began their own one-to-one negotiations with pharmaceutical companies, the majority of G7 countries decided to hold back.

Although Canada and the United Kingdom were technically entitled to vaccines through this route because they paid into the Covax mechanism, Rohit Malpani, Oxfam's Global Health Adviser, said it was still "morally indefensible" given that they had both obtained millions of doses through bilateral agreements.

"They should not have been acquiring these doses from Covax," he said. "It's nothing better than double-dipping and means that poorer countries which are already at the back of the queue, will end up waiting longer."

The UK government pointed out that it was one of the countries that "kick-started" Covax with a £548 million donation last year.

The Canadian government was quick to point out that it had stopped using Covax vaccines.

"As soon as it became clear that the supply we had secured through our bilateral deals would be sufficient for the Canadian population, we pivoted the doses we had procured from Covax back to Covax, so they could be redistributed to developing countries," Karina Gould, the country's Minister of International Development, said.

Covax set a goal of delivering two billion vaccine doses by the end of the year, but it has only delivered 371 million so far.

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