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Health, trade chiefs urge COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers to help poorer countries

Published Aug 01, 2021 11:21 am

Four of the world’s most prominent health, trade, and financial organizations on Saturday urged COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers to prioritize doses for poorer countries to prevent “acute and alarming shortage.”

A joint statement by the heads of the World Health Organization, World Trade Organization, International Monetary Fund, and World Bank said countries that have progressed far in vaccinating against the disease should release doses rapidly in favor of less fortunate nations.

"We reiterate the urgency of providing access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments to people throughout the developing world," they said.

"In the area of vaccines, a key constraint is the acute and alarming shortage in the supply of doses to low and low-middle income countries, especially for the rest of 2021.”

"We call on countries with advanced COVID-19 vaccination programs to release as soon as possible as much of their contracted vaccine doses and options as possible to COVAX, the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), and low and low-middle income countries."

COVAX aims to get donor-funded jabs to poorer countries.

The leaders said vaccine delivery contracts for poorer nations were being delayed, with less than five percent of purchased vaccine doses having been delivered.

"We urge COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers to redouble their efforts to scale up production of vaccines specifically for these countries and to ensure the supply of doses to COVAX and low and low-middle income countries take precedence over the promotion of boosters and other activities," they said.

They called on governments to reduce or eliminate barriers to the export of vaccines and all materials involved in producing them and said there was an urgent need to tackle supply chain bottlenecks.

The four international agencies have set up a combined task force on COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics for developing countries in order to identify and resolve impediments to production.

The task force held its first meeting on June 30.

More than four billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have now been administered globally, according to an AFP count.

In countries categorized as high income by the World Bank, 98.2 doses per 100 people have been injected.

That figure drops to 1.6 per 100 in the 29 lowest-income countries. (AFP)