World faces 'catastrophic failure': WHO.
The world is on the brink of "catastrophic moral failure" in sharing COVID-19 vaccines, the head of the World Health Organisation says, urging countries and manufacturers to spread doses more fairly around the world.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the prospect of equitable distribution was at "serious risk" just as its COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme aimed to start distributing inoculations next month.
He noted 44 bilateral deals were signed last year and at least 12 have already been signed this year.
World Health Organization warns of "catastrophic moral failure", accusing rich countries of vaccine hoarding https://t.co/rTeh677Jyj— BBC News (World) (@BBCWorld) January 18, 2021
"This could delay COVAX deliveries and create exactly the scenario COVAX was designed to avoid, with hoarding, a chaotic market, an uncoordinated response and continued social and economic disruption," he said.
Such a "me-first approach" left the world's poorest and most vulnerable at risk, he said at the opening of the body's annual Executive Board meeting in virtual format.
Tedros said more than 39 million vaccine doses had been administered in 49 higher-income countries, whereas just 25 doses had been given in one low-income country; Guinea.
A delegate from Burkina Faso, on behalf of the African group, expressed concern at the meeting that a few countries had "hoovered up" most of the supplies.
Observers say this board meeting, which lasts until next Tuesday, is one of the most important in the UN health agency's more than 70-year history and could shape its role in global health long after the pandemic ends.