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WHO: 1B Vaccines Sent to Poorer Nations01/16 10:12
BERLIN (AP) -- The World Health Organization said Sunday that a U.N.-backed
program shipping coronavirus vaccines to many poor countries has now delivered
1 billion doses, but that milestone "is only a reminder of the work that
remains" after hoarding and stockpiling in rich countries.
A shipment of 1.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Rwanda on Saturday
included the billionth dose supplied via the COVAX program, the U.N. health
WHO has long criticized unequal distribution of vaccines and called for
manufacturers and other countries to prioritize COVAX. It said that, as of
Thursday, 36 of its 194 member countries had vaccinated less than 10% of their
population and 88 had vaccinated less than 40%.
The program has made deliveries to 144 countries so far, "but the work that
has gone into this milestone is only a reminder of the work that remains," WHO
said in a statement.
"COVAX's ambition was compromised by hoarding/stockpiling in rich countries,
catastrophic outbreaks leading to borders and supply being locked," it added.
"And a lack of sharing of licenses, technology and know-how by pharmaceutical
companies meant manufacturing capacity went unused."
At the end of December, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
urged everyone to make a "new year's resolution" to get behind a campaign to
vaccinate 70% of countries' populations by the beginning of July.
In a newspaper interview published Sunday, Germany's new international
development minister said she wants to use her country's presidency this year
of the Group of Seven industrial nations to ensure that COVAX gets the
resources it needs in 2022.
"Unfortunately, there are still too few countries participating in the
financing of the global vaccination campaign," Svenja Schulze was quoted as
telling the Funke newspaper group. "Alongside Sweden, Norway, Canada and the
U.S., we are the ones who are giving most. The other industrial countries have
significant ground to catch up."
Germany has said it donated 103 million doses to poorer countries last year
and plans to donate another 75 million in 2022.
Schulze signaled that she wants to expand help for developing countries to
produce vaccines themselves, with partnerships between companies to produce
vaccines under license a favored aim.
Asked whether it would make sense to waive patents on COVID-19 patents,
which Germany's previous government opposed, she replied: "I doubt that
developing countries would get vaccines more easily if we waive the patents."
The issue is only a small part of the production process, she argued.