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Inequity in vaccine distribution biggest obstacle to ending pandemic: WHO chief

Inequity in vaccine distribution biggest obstacle to ending pandemic: WHO chief

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus issued his statement from Geneva along with data released by the UN Development Program (UNDP) and the University of Oxford.

It found that COVID-19 vaccine inequity will have a lasting and profound impact on socio-economic recovery in low- and lower-middle-income countries without urgent action to boost supply and assure equitable access for every country, including through dose-sharing.

“Vaccine inequity is the world’s biggest obstacle to ending this pandemic and recovering from COVID-19,” said Tedros, who is in the Japanese capital to attend the Tokyo Olympics. “Economically, epidemiologically and morally, it is in all countries’ best interest to use the latest available data to make lifesaving vaccines available to all.”

Accelerated manufacturing and sharing enough vaccine doses with low-income countries could have added $38 billion to their GDP forecast for 2021 if they had similar vaccination rates as high-income countries, the group said.

At a time when richer countries have paid trillions in stimulus to prop up flagging economies, now is the time to ensure vaccine doses are shared quickly, it urged.

The group called for removing barriers to increase vaccine manufacturing and secure financing support so vaccines are distributed equitably for a truly global economic recovery to occur.

“In some low- and middle-income countries, less than 1% of the population is vaccinated-this is contributing to a two-track recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.

He called for “swift, collective action.”