The director general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, denounced this Monday that some rich countries are undermining the global distribution of vaccines against covid-19 and urged them to rethink the upward revisions of their agreements with pharmaceutical companies.
In a virtual press conference with the president of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, he explained that when rich countries review their contracts to buy more vaccines this has a negative impact on the states that participate in the Global Access Fund for Covid-19 Vaccines ( Covax), who may receive fewer doses or later.
Tedros appreciated the recent pledges of the G7 countries to contribute 7.500 billion dollars (6.188 million euros) to Covax, but warned that funding is not enough.
Money by itself is "useless" if in the early stages of the vaccination campaign, when the doses that can be produced and marketed do not meet global demand, high-income countries monopolize all items.
“The aid is important, but at the same time I want to point out the challenges we face. Even with money. If we can't buy vaccines, the money is useless. Some industrialized countries are buying more doses and consequently the contracts with Covax are being affected, ”he said, according to EFE.
He urged rich countries to consider whether by upgrading their contracts with vaccine producers - as the US and the European Union (EU) have recently done, although Tedros did not cite any in particular - they are not "calling into question all the Covax initiative ”.
They should analyze, "before requesting more doses from the producers", if their decision "does not have negative effects on the Covax vaccines," added the director general of the WHO.
Steinmeier assured in this regard: "financial resources are necessary, but they are not vaccines."
Solidarity, ethics and interest
Tedros appealed to "solidarity" and "ethics", but not only. It is, he argued, about protecting "the world as a whole", because the pandemic can only be defeated when it expires "globally".
Steinmeier pointed out in this sense that "it is not reasonable to vaccinate only the vulnerable in a country", but against Sars-CoV2 we must act "globally": For "humanity" and "morality", but "also in our own interest ”.
“A global vaccination campaign is interesting for everyone, even for rich countries. Undermining Covax is not only a problem for the unimmunized, it is also a problem for countries where the population has already been inoculated ”, he explained, pointing to possible variants for which the first vaccines are not effective.
Tedros recognized that governments are committed, first of all, to their citizenship, but pointed out that it must be explained that not only is it enough to immunize the people of a country, it is "better to protect everyone."
Faced with this problem, the director general of the WHO called for a "significant increase" in vaccine production "as fast as possible" in order "to return to normality."
He advocated cooperation between pharmaceutical companies (with the license of authorized formulas, for example), but avoided taking a position on the proposal to eliminate patents in an exceptional way for the covid and thus achieve a massive and cheap production.
Steinmeier also pointed out another angle of the so-called nationalism of vaccines, since the pandemic has become in his opinion a “geopolitical moment” where some countries - referring to Russia and China - are distributing doses to other countries with political objectives, something that it could have "huge consequences for our future."
Covax is an alliance led by WHO, the GAVI Vaccine Alliance, and the Coalition for the Advancement of Innovations for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI) with the goal of ensuring equitable access to coronavirus vaccines. So far it has purchased 330 million doses on behalf of 140 countries.
The G7 countries announced this Friday 7.500 billion dollars (6.188 million euros) for Covax, led by contributions from the US (2.000 billion dollars) and Germany (1.500 million euros or 1.818 million dollars)