WHO tells G7 vaccine inequity 'unacceptable'

AFP
The WHO chief on Friday implored the G7 to prioritize equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines around the globe, branding the current imbalance morally inadmissible.
AFP

The WHO chief on Friday implored the G7 to prioritize equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines around the globe, branding the current imbalance morally inadmissible.

World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the uneven distribution of vaccines among rich and poor nations would not help to end the coronavirus pandemic.

"For the G7 now, the most important and the immediate support we need is vaccines, and vaccine equity," he told a press conference.

Nearly 1.25 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been injected in at least 210 territories around the world, according to an AFP count.

Some 45 percent of the doses have been administered in high-income countries accounting for 16 percent of the global population.

Just 0.3 percent have been administered in the 29 lowest-income countries, home to 9 percent of the world's population.

"This kind of divide is unacceptable," Tedros said.

"Not because of just a moral issue, but it's unacceptable because we will not defeat the virus in a divided world."

The Group of Seven industrial powers are holding a summit on June 11-13 in Cornwall, southwest England, hosted by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The WHO says the G7 has the ability to fund the vaccines, tests and treatments needed to conquer the pandemic — and knock down the barriers blocking faster production.

"It's in every country's interest in this world to share vaccines, and to help in any way possible," said Tedros.

The WHO's Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator program for finding, developing and distributing coronavirus jabs, tests and therapeutics, is US$19 billion short of its US$22-billion target this year.

And a further US$35 to US$45 billion will be needed next year to ensure most adults around the world are immunized.

Tedros wants the G7 countries — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States — to dig deep to help find solutions.

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