The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has urged countries to avoid Covid-19 “vaccine nationalism” and combine efforts to ensure global access to drugs and vaccines once they are confirmed.
Speaking at his daily press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, Dr Ghebreyesus called on different countries to come together under COVAX, an organization that is co-led by Gavi, the vaccine alliance, WHO, and the Coaliton of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
Its aim is to accelerate the development and manufacture of Covid-19 vaccine, and guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world. It is central to the Access to Covid-19 Tools (ACT), Accelerator.
WHO chief reiterated concerns that once developed, COVID-19 drugs should not be hoarded by some countries at the expense of others.
“Nationalism exacerbated Covid-19 pandemic and contributed to the total failure of the global supply chain, hoarding by some countries led to shortages of protective gear in the early days of the pandemic,” Ghebreyesus said.
“The world’s interconnectedness means that “a vaccine developed in one country may need to be filled in vials with stoppers that are produced in another, using materials for the high-grade glass that is only available from yet another country.”
“Sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is actually in each country’s national interest,” Ghebreyesus said.
The WHO chief call for an international agreement to share vaccines comes as countries from countries Britain, European Union, Switzerland, and the United States are reportedly making deals with drug makers that have prospective COVID-19 vaccines in various stages of trials.
WHO is asking countries to agree on COVAX guidelines by the end of the month. Ghebreyesus has written to all WHO member states to participate in the pact.