WHO calls on member states to reduce vaccine inequality

Representational Image
Representational Image

The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on member states to engage with vaccine manufacturers to encourage intellectual property (IP) sharing and technology transfer to reduce inequality in access to vaccines by poor countries.

"The single most important priority of the global community is to stop the pandemic in its tracks, to halt its rapid transmission and reverse the trend of consequential global distress," wrote WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado Quesada, in a letter published on Thursday.

"We know that this goal is only achievable when everyone, everywhere, can access the health technologies they need for Covid-19 detection, prevention, treatment and response," they wrote.

The C-Tap (the Covid-19 technology access pool) initiative for Covid test and vaccines was launched by the WHO in partnership with Costa Rica.

However, "it remains an underutilised tool", said the letter urging member states to leverage C-TAP's potential to promote access and accelerate local production.

"That is why we call once again on all Member States to renew and expand our collective commitment in the Solidarity Call to Action and to proactively engage with key stakeholders in their territories and encourage IP sharing and technology transfer through C-TAP. It is our responsibility to ensure a safer world for all, for this generation and for those to come," the letter stated.

The WHO has long called for fairer distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. It is leading the Covax scheme which is designed to get jabs to poorer nations.

So far. 72 million doses have been shipped to 125 countries through COVAX, but they are sufficient for barely 1 per cent of the combined population of those countries.

More than 75 per cent of all vaccines have been administered in just 10 countries, Ghebreyesus said in his recent address at the WHO's 74th World Health Assembly.

Slamming the ongoing vaccine crisis, he said it is a "scandalous inequity" that is perpetuating the Covid pandemic.

Ghebreyesus called on member states to support vaccination of at least 10 percent of the population of every country by September, and at least 30 percent by the end of the year.

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