Geneva | Virus spreading faster than vaccines, inadequate G7 promises, weak international financial support … The World Health Organization called on the population, Monday, to show great solidarity to eradicate the epidemic.
At their summit this weekend in England, G7 leaders announced a donation of 1 billion doses – in fact, 870 million doses on top of commitments made since February – either in kind or under some form of financial assistance to Kovacs’ international distribution system.
“We need more and faster. More than 10,000 people die every day. […] These communities need vaccines, and they need them now, not next year! The Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, criticized it at a press conference.
“Currently, the virus is transmitted faster than the global distribution of vaccines,” he lamented.
If part of the population of rich countries returns to normal life thanks to vaccination, progress is still fragile in the less fortunate countries, largely deprived of vaccines.
Covax has delivered more than 85 million doses to 131 countries and territories as of June 14, far less than expected.
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Not one but eleven billion مليار
NGOs and WHO partners are also concerned.
“We need more clarification on the actual number of doses given and the exact time it will take to fulfill their promises,” Yuanqiong Ho of Doctors Without Borders told AFP.
The World Health Organization wants at least 70% of the world’s population to be vaccinated by the next G7 meeting in Germany next year. “To make that happen, we need eleven billion doses,” Dr. Tedros said.
According to Helen Clark, who co-chairs an expert panel to assess global epidemic management, high-income countries have allocated 4.3 billion doses.
Even with two doses per person, “there are still two billion doses to redistribute,” the former New Zealand prime minister said, ahead of the G7 summit.
However, sharing doses is only one focus of the G7 Health Battle Plan.
The summit outcome document includes a series of commitments to prevent another pandemic. It will be about reducing the time frame for developing vaccines, treatments and diagnostics, with the hope that in less than a hundred days the world will be ready to deal with the sudden disease.
The other component will focus on strengthening health surveillance and implementing WHO reform to make it more robust.
A daunting goal without China, which does not appreciate the G7, which it described as the “clique” formed by Washington. Especially since decisions at the World Health Organization tend to be taken unanimously.
Ilona Kikosch, founder of the Center for Global Health at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, is also skeptical of the G7’s stated desire to strengthen the UN agency: “I would think (this) indicates when contributions to WHO will be increased.”
For Oxfam, it is necessary above all to resolve the issue of patent suspensions on vaccines, in order to speed up their production.
A finding shared by Human Rights Watch (HRW), while negotiations on the subject have just been launched at the World Trade Organization (WTO) after months of discussions.
“The focus on vaccines and charitable donations is not enough,” Aruna Kashyap of Human Rights Watch told AFP. The failure of the G7 to provide unequivocal support for a temporary exit from global intellectual property rules is a deadly situation.”
1% of spending on military defense
For the WHO and its partners, the issue of funding is also critical to ending the pandemic.
More than $16 billion (€13.2 billion) is still needed this year to fund the international mechanism responsible for accelerating access to COVID-19 tools (ACT Accelerator), particularly to support distribution processors, oxygen, testing and protective equipment.
$16 billion represents less than 1% of the world’s annual military defense spending. “We can certainly spend 1% of that amount to save lives and end this pandemic,” Michael Ryan, director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, said at the press conference.
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