‘High, middle income nations given 80pc of vaccines’

Health Watch

MORE than four billion vaccines have been administered globally, but more than 80 per cent have gone to high-and upper-middle income countries, an official says.
World Health Organisation (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said health workers and people most at risk in lower-income countries were not receiving vaccines, while some countries were vaccinating those at low risk of serious disease.
“This is wrong,” he said.
“The hard-won gains we have made are being lost and health systems in many countries are being overwhelmed as the increased number of infections is creating
a shortage of life-saving treatments.
“Twenty-nine (29) countries have high and rising oxygen needs, and many countries have inadequate supplies of basic equipment to protect frontline health workers.”
Meanwhile, Ghebreyesus said testing rates in low-income countries were less than 2 per cent of what they are in high-income countries.
This leaves us blind to understanding where the disease is, and whether new, more dangerous variants are emerging.
“So far, the Secretariat has supported 117 countries with oxygen concentrators and generators,” Ghebreyesus said.
“We are providing guidance to help countries better detect variants; and we continue to work daily with our global networks of experts to understand why the Delta variant spreads so readily.
“But the needs are much greater than the resources we have to meet them.”
Ghebreyesus said the WHO strategic preparedness and response plan for 2021 needed US$900 million (about K3.58 billion) – almost half of what it needs.
“This shortfall is having an impact on our operations and the lack of flexibility, in particular, leaves us in danger of not being able to sustain priorities for vaccination, surveillance and response in countries experiencing surges in cases.”