Addis Ababa June 5/2021 (ENA) Some two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been distributed globally but only 0.5 per cent has reached low-income countries where frontline health workers and the elderly have yet to receive a shot, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.
Head of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) Hub at the WHO, Dr Bruce Aylward said “This week, we’ll probably pass the two billion doses – if we have not already passed it…in terms of number of doses of these vaccines, these new COVID vaccines that have actually been developed. And these have been distributed now in over 212 countries,”
Dr. Aylward, noted that of those two billion doses, “over 75 per cent” had gone to just 10 countries, notably China, the US and India.
This trio “account for about 60 per cent of those doses”, said Dr Aylward, adding that “at the other end of that spectrum” only about “point five per cent of doses” had reached the lowest income countries, which account for about 10 per cent of world population.
This had led increasingly to “a two-track recovery”, characterised by the successful rollout of vaccines to high-risk populations and even younger populations in higher income and vaccine-producing countries.
By contrast, “in the lower income countries, they’re still struggling to get sufficient product just to be able to vaccinate the health care workers, older populations, who are really the key to getting out of the health, societal and economic crisis that we’re in the midst of”, Dr. Aylward explained, in an urgent appeal for 250 million doses to protect frontline workers and the most vulnerable people.
“The call is for a quarter of a billion doses through the period through end of September, to be donated, at least 100 million of those in June and July – that’s what we need to get the system going.”
He noted that the United States had helped to kickstart the appeal and bolster the UN-partnered equitable vaccine distribution scheme COVAX with the announcement that it intended to donate up to 80 million doses, including an initial 25 million shots, this month.
“That’s an important start (but) we need many other countries to be joining and important for the US, crucially, is they said these doses are going to come in June.”
It was “absolutely ridiculous” that some countries were still unable to protect their key workers amid “escalating epidemics” even though vaccines had been available for six months, he said.
Globally, as of 4 June 2021, there have been 171,708,011 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 3,697,151 reported deaths, according to WHO.