The World Health Organization (WHO) says action and money are needed to ensure coronavirus vaccines are available around the world as Western nations approve them.
During Friday’s COVID-19 briefing at WHO headquarters in Geneva, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus applauded the fact Britain was already vaccinating its citizens and that Canada, the United states and others would not be far behind. He said to have safe and effective vaccines for a virus that was completely unknown a year ago is an “astounding scientific achievement.”
The WHO chief noted it would be an even greater achievement to ensure all countries have equal access to those vaccines. Tedros said the U.N. agency has worked hard over the past year to secure political commitments from world leaders for equal access to vaccines and he said he wants to see those commitments translated into action.
He said the WHO needs $4.3 billion to procure vaccines for the world’s neediest countries and urged donors to help fill a funding gap.
The director-general said the organization is working with its partners to ensure developing countries have infrastructure in place to deliver vaccines to their populations. Through its COVAX vaccine cooperative and the 189 countries participating, Tedros said the WHO has secured nearly a billion doses of three potential vaccines.
But Tedros said closing the funding gap is crucial to ensuring the entire world is protected.
“We have all seen images of people being vaccinated against COVID-19. We want to see these same images all over the world, and that will be a true sign of solidarity,” he said Friday.