Wealthier nations ignore WHO's call to end vaccine nationalism

FILE PHOTO AP Photo/Hans Pennink

FILE PHOTO AP Photo/Hans Pennink

Published Aug 20, 2020


DURBAN - The World Health Organization’s (WHO) call for nations to end vaccine nationalism, continues to be ignored by wealthier nations. Australia became the latest country to sign a deal with a drugmaker company to secure a potential Covid-19 vaccine.

"Acting strategically and globally is actually in each country's national interest; no one is safe until everyone is safe. We need to prevent vaccine nationalism. Sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is actually in each country’s national interest,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, during a virtual briefing.

Australia’s government signed the deal with AstraZeneca Plc, on Tuesday to receive the potential Oxford University coronavirus vaccine should it prove to be a successful one. Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands have signed a contract for pre-orders of 300 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine currently in development. All EU countries will be able to take part in the program.

The US government has signed deals with Pfizer, German biotech BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) for its potential coronavirus vaccine. While Russia and China are also working on vaccines.

The WHO has set the end of this month as a deadline for wealthier nations to join the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility” for sharing vaccine hopefuls with developing countries.

“So far, the COVAX facility has attracted interest from 92 poorer countries hoping for voluntary donations and 80 wealthier countries, a number little changed from a month ago, that would finance the scheme. Still, some nations are waiting for the deadline before making a commitment as the facility’s terms are still being finalised,” said Bruce Aylward, who leads the WHO’s ACT.

The program is designed to pool funds from wealthier countries and nonprofits to develop a Covid-19 vaccine and distribute it equitably around the world. Its aim is to deliver 2 billion doses of effective, approved Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2021.

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