WHO warns poor countries do not have enough vaccine supplies

The World Health Organisation has warned that more than half of poorer nations receiving doses via the Covax sharing programme do not have enough supplies to continue. The shortages come as many nations in Africa and Latin America are seeing a surge in infections.

By Susy Hodges

A WHO senior adviser Bruce Aylward told a briefing that well over half of poorer nations do not have sufficient vaccine supplies to be able to sustain their vaccination programmes right now and many of them have completely run out.

The current shortages in vaccines are caused partly by manufacturing delays and also by supply disruptions from India which is the world’s largest producer of vaccines but which has itself been struggling with a major rise in Covid-19 cases.  Figures show that less than two percent of all Covid vaccines distributed in the world have gone to low income nations.

Donations through Covax

With the growing pressure on global vaccine supplies, some wealthier countries with spare doses are leading efforts to step up donations through Covax and other means.  On Monday the administration of U.S. President Jo Biden announced plans to donate 55 million vaccine doses to countries in need.  These vaccines are in addition to an earlier pledge of 500 million doses made by President Biden at the recent G7 summit of major economic powers.

However many campaigners have criticised wealthier nations for not offering enough vaccines to poorer countries and for being too slow in their handouts. Many are calling for a waiver on intellectual property or patents for Covid vaccines, arguing that nations around the world need to be empowered to manufacture and distribute their own vaccines for the virus.

Pope Francis' appeal for solidarity

Pope Francis is among those who have urged a temporary suspension of intellectual property rights for Covid vaccines to ensure universal access to vaccines. In a video message at the recent Vax Live Concert the Pope condemned what he called “the virus of individualism” that makes us “indifferent to the suffering of others.”

He said, “closed nationalism,” which is not simply concern for one’s citizens first, but also a lack of concern for others, is “a variant” of this “virus of individualism.”

The Pope warned that people suffer when “we put the laws of the market or intellectual property rights above the laws of love and the health of humanity.”

Listen to the report by Susy Hodges

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22 June 2021, 14:50