BERLIN – The director-general of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom said on Monday that some developed nations were striking COVID-19 vaccine deals that undermined the interests of Covax, the initiative to secure an equitable global distribution of jabs.
“Some high-income countries are approaching manufacturers to secure more vaccines, which is affecting the deals with Covax and even the amount that was allocated for Covax was reduced because of this,” he said at a virtual press conference, where he was joined by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
“We can only have vaccines delivered to countries who are members of Covax if the high-income countries cooperate in respecting the deals that Covax did.
“Starting vaccinations in all countries is in the interest of the whole world,” he said. “If this virus is not defeated everywhere, we cannot defeat it globally, it will have a safe haven somewhere and can strike back.”
He said that areas that are late to start their vaccine programs could become the “breeding grounds” for new variants that could be more resistant to vaccines.
The WHO chief thanked several G7 and European Union nations for their recent donation of $4.3 billion in funding for Covax, which is led by the WHO and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, among others.
One of the main goals of Covax is to start vaccinating health workers, older people and at-risk groups in all countries of the world within the first 100 days of the year.