World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday warned rich countries against hogging COVID-19 vaccine doses while the poorest suffer.
Ghebreyesus blasted vaccine manufacturers for chasing regulatory approvals in wealthy nations rather than seeking global approval.
“I need to be blunt. The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure,” Tedros said. “And the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries.”
Countries around the world stepped up their coronavirus vaccine campaigns Monday, with Russia offering jabs to all citizens, while an independent probe found fault with the early response to the pandemic.
Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and Beijing could have acted faster when Covid-19 first surfaced in China a year ago, the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response concluded in a report.
It added that countries, where the virus was likely to spread, should have put containment measures in place immediately.
With the global death toll now past two million, many governments are betting on mass vaccination to throttle the pandemic, while tightening lockdown measures at the same time.
Nationwide rollouts from Brazil to Azerbaijan were getting underway Monday, while Britain and France were widening inoculations to all elderly people.
In Russia, the government welcomed all citizens to sign up for the homegrown Sputnik V jab — but while it was widely available in Moscow, many regions reported receiving only between 5,000 and 15,000 doses in the country of 146 million.
India’s campaign was also facing teething problems as it emerged that almost a third of the 300,000 people invited for a shot on the opening day didn’t turn up.
“These are initial days and we understand people are waiting to see how the procedure pans out,” said Suneela Garg, a member of the coronavirus task force for New Delhi.
“These numbers will go up as confidence is strengthened. And for that, we have to tackle misinformation.”
Israel, praised for one of the world’s fastest rollouts, has secured a significant stock of vaccines partly by pledging to quickly share data on its impact with Pfizer, according to an agreement with the drug company seen by AFP.
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