WHO chief Tedros slams 'rich' countries and vaccine producers for ignoring 'poor' nations

WION Web Team
Washington, United States Published: Jan 18, 2021, 05.56 PM(IST)

World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wears a protective face mask Photograph:( AFP )

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'Just 25 doses have been given in one lowest-income country. Not 25 million; not 25,000; just 25,' WHO Chief Tedros said

Several countries have approved coronavirus vaccines produced in the West and have also started mass coronavirus vaccination drives for their citizens. While it has been a great step to offer vaccines to citizens, the World Health Organization has labelled this as the "brink of a catastrophic moral failure".

Denouncing the 'me-first' attitude of majority countries, the World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has called out the wealthy nations for acting selfishly and not helping out the poorer countries.

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"I need to be blunt. The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure — and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world's poorest countries," Tedros said.

Quoting official figures, he explained that while 39 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine had been administered in nearly 49 'wealthy' countries, only 25 doses have been provided to the 'lower-income' countries.

"Just 25 doses have been given in one lowest-income country. Not 25 million; not 25,000; just 25," he exclaimed.

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He also accused some countries of committing reassuring words on equitable access and prioritising their own selfish motives by securing deals for themselves in a hurry with the aim of skipping waiting time, leading to a surge in prices.

Once again using figures as evidence, he said that 44 such deals had already been stuck in the pandemic year of 2020 and at least 12 new deals have been finalised since the New Year.

Tedros also accused the pharmaceutical companies of running behind the wealthy countries for approval, resulting in monetary benefit, rather than submitting data to the WHO to procure approval for global use of their vaccines.

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"The situation is compounded by the fact that most manufacturers have prioritised regulatory approval in rich countries where the profits are highest, rather than submitting full dossiers to WHO," Tedros slammed the companies.

"Not only does this me-first approach leave the world's poorest and most vulnerable people at risk, it's also self defeating," Tedros said in his opening speech of a WHO executive board meeting. "Ultimately, these actions will only prolong the pandemic, prolong our pain, the restrictions needed to contain it, and human and economic suffering."

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