LONDON: Europe rushed to bulk buy more coronavirus vaccine doses and approved more drugs on Friday, as the World Health Organisation called on wealthy nations not to hog all the available jabs and millions in Asia faced tough restrictions over isolated outbreaks.
The pandemic has already killed 1.9 million people out of 88 million infections and is picking up speed, with 14 percent more cases reported globally per day this week compared to the previous seven days, according to an AFP count.As the world races for vaccines, the European Union said it had agreed an option for a further 300 million jabs from Pfizer/BioNTech, doubling its supply of the drug.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said the bloc would have “more than enough” doses for its entire population thanks to the new deal as well as forthcoming approvals of other vaccines including a jab developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
Britain, freshly departed from the EU, approved its third vaccine on Friday from US firm Moderna, keeping ahead of its neighbours in terms of vaccines available and numbers inoculated.
But the WHO urged rich countries to stop cutting their own deals with manufacturers to snap up the first wave of vaccines, potentially bumping up the price for everyone else.
“No country is exceptional and should cut the queue and vaccinate all their population, while some remain with no supply,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, pushing wealthier countries to free up excess doses for the globally-shared Covax programme.
Bruce Aylward, the WHO lead on Covax, said that “50 percent of the high-income countries in the world are vaccinating today. Zero percent of the low-income countries are vaccinating. That is not equitable.”