Covax is working to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics to put an end to the Covid-19 pandemic
Countries seeking their own Covid-19 vaccine doses are making deals with drug companies that threaten the supply for the global Covax program for poor and middle-income countries, the World Health Organization said on Friday.
"Now, some countries are still pursuing deals that will compromise the Covax supply. Without a doubt," WHO senior adviser Bruce Aylward told a briefing.
The WHO has long called upon rich countries to ensure that vaccines are shared equitably. The global organization is one of the leaders of Covax, a program that aims to supply 1.3 billion vaccine doses to poor and middle-income countries this year. But so far, Covax has had a slow rollout.
"We can't beat Covid without vaccine equity. Our world will not recover fast enough without vaccine equity, this is clear," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.
"We have made great progress. But that progress is fragile. We need to accelerate the supply and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, and we cannot do that if some countries continue to approach manufacturers who are producing vaccines that Covax is counting on."
"These actions undermine Covax and deprive health workers and vulnerable people around the world of life-saving vaccines."
Tedros also called for countries to waive intellectual property rules, to allow other countries to make vaccines more quickly.
The idea of temporarily waiving intellectual property rights for tools to fight Covid-19 is set to come up again next week at a meeting of World Trade Organization (WTO) member states. In the past, it has run into opposition from rich countries with big pharmaceutical industries.
Over 2.5 million deaths
The virus has caused at least 2,531,285 deaths, with over 114 million known infections around the world since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources.
The US has the heaviest toll with 523,091 deaths, followed by Brazil with 252,988, Mexico with 184,474, India 156,970 and the United Kingdom 122,415.
On Saturday, the US House passed an enormous, $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, hailed by Democrats as a critical step in funnelling new funding toward vaccinations, overburdened local governments, and millions of families devastated by the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council gives unanimous approval to a resolution calling for improved access to Covid-19 vaccines in conflict-hit or impoverished countries. It is the second resolution on the pandemic passed by the council since it began a year ago.