WHO head urges rich nations to join vaccine scheme by Friday deadline
ZURICH: Countries should join the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX vaccine facility by a Friday deadline to help ensure that immunizations are fairly and efficiently distributed, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.
So far, 92 lower-income nations are seeking assistance via the COVAX facility, part of the WHO’s ACT Accelerator to boost the development of vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics to combat the pandemic. Some 80 higher-income nations have expressed interest, but many must still confirm their intention to join by the end of this week.
“If people in low- and middle-income countries miss out on vaccines, the virus will continue to kill and the economic recovery globally will be delayed,” Tedros told a WHO regional event for Europe that was broadcast virtually.
The WHO describes COVAX as an “invaluable insurance policy” for all countries to secure access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines when they are developed and approved. The plan’s coordinators have set a deadline of September 18 for countries signing up to make binding commitments.
COVAX’s aim is to procure and deliver 2 billion doses of approved vaccines by the end of 2021. It currently has nine COVID-19 vaccine candidates in its portfolio employing a range of different technologies and scientific approaches.
A handful are already in late-stage clinical trials and could have data available by year end.