WHO Director General, Dr Tedros, has warned against COVID vaccine nationalism.
Speaking at a presser, the DG said that it was imperative that once the vaccine was developed, then issuing it to some people in all countries was better than issuing it to all people in some countries.
“In the coming months, we all hope to have good news about a COVID-19 vaccine,” Dr Tedros said, “But if and when we have an effective vaccine, then we must also use if effectively.”
Most vulnerable get top priority
He said that with time, supply would be sufficient for all. However, initially, with supply limited, then priority needed to be given to the most vulnerable.
“Priority must be given to essential health workers and those most at risk – including older people and those with underlying conditions.
“In other words, the first priority must be to vaccinate some people in all countries, rather than all people in some countries.” Dr Tedros argued.
He said that it was more than just a moral and public health imperative. It was also an economic imperative. He especially spoke for low and middle-income countries.
If people from low and middle-income countries missed out on the vaccine, he said, then that would mean it would continue to kill. This would then lead to continued economic strain.
“Using vaccines as a global public good is in the national interest of each country. Vaccine nationalism will prolong the pandemic, not shorten it.” Dr Tedros concluded.
COVID-19 caught the world unawares as it broke out in China and quickly spread across the world.
This has led to scientists working around the clock to develop a vaccine. Due to the resource-intensive nature of the exercise, most of the countries developing it are the developed world.
So far, 321 vaccine candidates are in development in various countries across the world. A few are in the final trial stage.