WHO calls for equitable access to corona vaccine

17 January, 2021 12:00 AM printer

As Covid-19 cases spike in parts of Europe, Africa and the Americas, and new variants of the virus emerge in some countries, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for greater global collaboration in ending the pandemic, reports UNB.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reported on the outcome of the latest meeting of the Emergency Committee on Covid-19, held online on Friday, at his weekly press briefing.

 The Committee issued a statement calling for upgrading national capacity for genome sequencing, and greater data sharing, in efforts to monitor and respond to changes in the virus.

Tedros told journalists he was pleased the expert panel also emphasised that vaccines must be rolled out equitably. 

“Health workers are exhausted, health systems are stretched and we’re seeing supplies of oxygen run dangerously low in some countries,” he told the media at the WHO headquarters in Geneva on Friday.

“Now is the time we must pull together as common humanity and roll out vaccines to health workers and those at highest risk.”

Virus vs humanity

Professor Didier Houssin, the Committee chair, underlined that scientific collaboration is essential to understand any Covid-19 variants.

“I think we are in a race between the virus, which is going to continue trying to mutate in order to spread more easily, and humanity, which has to try to stop this spreading,” he said.

The Emergency Committee also issued recommendations on international travel.

The statement said countries should not require travellers to show proof of vaccination or immunity at the present time “as there are still critical unknowns regarding the efficacy of vaccination in reducing transmission and limited availability of vaccines”.

Friday marked a solemn milestone in the global fight against Covid-19, as more than two million people have now died from the disease.

The UN Secretary-General has also issued a strongly worded video message, urging countries to work together to end the pandemic and save lives.