WHO Issues Warning Against Covid Vaccine Nationalism

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo: WHO
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has underlined the importance of global solidarity in addressing the Covid-19 crisis.

He said Tuesday (August 18) that he has urged the WHO Member States to join the COVAX Global Vaccines Facility, a mechanism aimed at guaranteeing fair access for all countries, rich or poor, to effective immunization.

“While there is a wish amongst leaders to protect their own people first, the response to this pandemic has to be collective,” he said. “Sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is actually in each country’s national interest.”

The COVAX Global Vaccines Facility is the vaccine pillar of the ACT-Accelerator, an initiative launched in April to speed up development of medicines to treat Covid-19 and make them available to people everywhere.

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It is operated by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and WHO, alongside multinational and developing country vaccine manufacturers.

According to WHO, the facility works to ensure as many countries as possible cooperate to pool development, procurement, and allocation of any Covid-19 vaccines.

WHO has 194 Member States and so far, more than 170 countries have expressed interest: 92 nations that work with GAVI or that need assistance, and 80 “fully self-financing countries.

As of August 18, there were nearly 22 million cases of Covid-19 worldwide, including more than 771,000 deaths.

Tedros also detailed logistical hurdles WHO has faced in shipping lifesaving medical equipment to countries worldwide over the past eight months as demand for medical masks, gowns, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) increased.

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Rakesh Raman