The World Health Organization (WHO) deplored, this Friday, a global failure in the equitable distribution of vaccines against Covid-19, noting that this failure leads “to a two-speed pandemic”.
“Global failure to equitably distribute vaccines is fueling a two-tier pandemic that is now wreaking havoc among the poorest and most vulnerable people around the world,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at a press conference in Geneva.
“Many Latin American countries are experiencing a rapid increase in cases of contamination (…) and in Africa, cases have increased by 52% last week,” he noted.
According to the latest weekly WHO report, the number of new infections with the new coronavirus has continued to decline around the world, except in Africa.
The WHO chief said “to expect the situation to worsen further”, noting that “only 1% of the population is fully vaccinated in Africa”.
For his part, the person in charge of emergency situations at the WHO, Doctor Michael Ryan, noted that the trajectory of Covid cases in Africa is “very, very worrying”, with the spread of more contagious variants and a dangerously low vaccination rates.
Dr Ryan pointed out that, seen as a whole, the continent does not appear to be so badly off, accounting for just over 5% of new cases recorded globally last week and 2.2% of deaths, but in some countries infections have doubled and they are on the rise by more than 50% in others.
“The stark reality is that in an area with multiple variants that are more contagious and potentially have a stronger impact, we have left large parts of the population and vulnerable populations in Africa deprived of vaccine protection, while health systems are already fragile, ”said Dr Ryan. “This is the result of an unfair distribution of vaccines,” he insisted.
Dr Bruce Aylward, responsible for overseeing the international Covax distribution system at the WHO, observed that dozens of countries are unable to administer the second dose of anti-Covid vaccines due to a lack of sufficient doses. , which risks destabilizing the vaccine campaigns in the long term.
“We have a huge number of countries which had to suspend their vaccination campaign for the second dose – 30 or 40 countries – which could have received second doses of AstraZeneca for example and which are not in a position to do so”, said Dr Aylward.
“The interval (between the two injections) is now longer than what we would like”, he warned, explaining that Covax was in direct negotiations with AstraZeneca but also the Serum Institute of India, which must manufacture most of the doses for covax, but the production of which is prohibited for export in the face of urgent needs in India itself.
According to Aylward, these countries are particularly found in sub-Saharan Africa, but also in Latin America, the Middle East and South Asia, in particular India’s neighbors such as Nepal or Sri Lanka, which must face a severe wave of infections.