Countries seeking their own COVID-19 vaccine doses are making deals with drug companies that threaten the supply for the global COVAX programme for poor and middle-income countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) 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 organisation is one of the leaders of COVAX, a programme 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 roll-out.
“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.”