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WHO urgently requests ten million doses of vaccine for Covax

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urgently requested 10 million doses of vaccines for 20 countries which are still deprived of them, in the midst of a resurgence of coronavirus contaminations in the world. The international Covax system, which WHO is co-piloting with other partners, “needs ten million doses immediately” so that “these twenty countries can start immunizing their health workers and the elderly in the next two weeks “, declared the director general of the UN agency, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a press conference.

“There are many countries that can afford to give doses with little disruption to their own immunization plans,” he said, acknowledging that it was a “difficult political choice”. And to warn: “Ten million doses is not a lot and it is far from sufficient, but it is a start. We will need hundreds of millions of additional doses in the months to come”.

36 countries are waiting for vaccines

At the start of the year, the head of the WHO launched a global challenge for the vaccination of caregivers and the elderly to be initiated in all countries during the first hundred days of 2021. To date, 177 countries and territories were able to launch the vaccination, according to the director general of the UN agency, in particular thanks to Covax which has distributed since the beginning of March more than 32 million vaccines in 61 countries.

“There are only 15 days left before the 100th day of the year, and 36 countries are still waiting for vaccines to be able to start vaccinating health workers and the elderly,” he said.

Sixteen of these 36 countries are expected to receive their first doses in the next fifteen days. But twenty other countries are “waiting” for vaccines. “We cannot deliver vaccines that we do not have,” noted the director general of the UN agency.

“As you know, bilateral agreements, export bans, vaccine nationalism and vaccine diplomacy have distorted the market, with flagrant inequalities between supply and demand,” he continued. .

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Bruce Aylward, an adviser to the managing director, called on the many countries that have ordered quantities of doses greater than the needs of their populations to share them, and also called on the international community to support Covax financially. “We urgently need $ 2.3 billion,” he said.

“Acute phase of the pandemic”

The international Covax system aims to deliver doses to 20% of the population of nearly 200 countries and territories this year, and includes a funding mechanism to help 92 underprivileged countries.

Some 237 million Astrazeneca-Oxford doses, manufactured in South Korea and by the Serum Institute of India (SII), were to be sent by the end of May to 142 countries, via the Covax system. But vaccine delivery has been delayed as India, which faces increased local demand for vaccines, did not grant export licenses for the doses due to be shipped by the SII in March and April.

“This is not an export ban,” assured the director general of the UN agency. “The number of cases in India is increasing. So they need more vaccines to be used locally to tackle the growing number of cases, which is understandable,” he said. But he assured that the WHO was in discussions with the Indian authorities so that a “balanced solution” is found, in order to meet the Indian national needs and the international demand linked to Covax.

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The concerns of the WHO are all the more acute as the contagion has further accelerated this week in almost all regions of the world, even if the new weekly contaminations remain much less numerous than at the beginning of the year. The new cases have been progressing for more than a month, after an unprecedented drop of one at the beginning of the year, which had seen the contaminations reduce by half, according to the report established by AFP.

“We are not done with the pandemic. We are still in the acute phase of the pandemic,” insisted Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical manager at the WHO for the fight against Covid-19.

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