Advanced countries lack 'political will' to ensure vaccine equity - WHO chief

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WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
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The "mother" of all bottlenecks for the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines is the lack of political will by major countries to ensure equitable access, said World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The WHO chief on Friday participated in a World Bank discussion on vaccines for developing countries.

Responding to a question on bottlenecks on vaccine distribution, Tedros said many countries have a "narrow nationalism", which is why they are moving toward "vaccine nationalism". Secondly, there is "lack of political will". "If major countries agree to address vaccine equity, they have everything - they have everything to do it. So, political will is missing."

Tedros added that there are also manufacturing issues contributing to bottlenecks. "But the mother of all bottlenecks is the lack of political will," he said.

Tedros called for global solidarity enabled by national unity. He explained that if the pandemic is politicised at a country level, then the, "... cracks" of different political positions will be exploited", by the virus. "Countries must avoid politicisation of the pandemic at a country level," he said.

"Consensus at country level will bring global solidarity at the global level," he said. 

South Africa recently received a $1 billion loan from the New Development Bank to support the country's economic recovery from the pandemic.

This week, government said that it expects the vaccination rollout programme to be implemented within set timelines.

"Government has secured 30 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 20 million doses from Pfizer, 12 million doses from Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access, and 12 million doses from the African Union," the statement, issued on behalf of the Ministry in the Presidency: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation read.

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