World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus heavily criticized wealthy nations in a recent statement about the pandemic and other health matters impacting the world. Among other things, the director-general said that wealthier nations are failing to uphold their promises to share vaccine doses with the world’s poorest countries.
According to the WHO director-general, two big things are preventing the COVID-19 pandemic from coming to an end: prevention methods aren’t being utilized properly and vaccines aren’t being shared adequately. Death rates from COVID-19 remain high in countries that have low access to the vaccines, while countries with more vaccines administered are seeing their death rates decline.
Of the 5.5 billion COVID-19 vaccines administered thus far in the pandemic, around 80-percent of them have been in upper- and high-income countries. “We’ve heard excuses from manufacturers and some high-income countries about how low-income countries can’t absorb vaccines,” Ghebreyesus said.
The actual problem, he explains, is that wealthy countries able to pay high amounts for the vaccines are making deals with manufacturers that obligate them to fill their orders. “High-income countries have promised to donate more than 1 billion doses, but less than 15% of those doses have materialized,” he revealed.
Among other things, the director-general is calling for countries to pause COVID-19 booster shots until at least the end of 2021, noting that some at-risk individuals need these shots, but that WHO doesn’t “want to see widespread use of boosters for healthy people who are fully vaccinated.”
He went on to state:
Low- and lower-middle-income countries are not the second or third priority. Their health workers, older people, and other at-risk groups have the same right to be protected. I will not stay silent when the companies and countries that control the global supply of vaccines think the world’s poor should be satisfied with leftovers.