G20 countries have key to vaccine equity, ending COVID-19 pandemic: WHO chief at health meet

G20 leaders need to fulfill their dose-sharing pledges by September-end 2021, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged countries at health meet in Rome

By DTE Staff
Published: Monday 06 September 2021

World leaders need to fulfill their pledges to share novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines by September-end 2021, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO) urged G20 countries at the health ministers meeting in Rome September 5.

They need to facilitate the sharing of technology, know-how and intellectual property to support regional COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing, he added. 

G20 health ministers, in their last meeting in Riyadh a year ago, had hoped the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic would be under control by now. But the situation continues to spiral out of control, and vaccine inequity continues to afflict several countries.

Ghebreyesus said:

Many countries continue to face steep increases in cases and deaths, despite the fact that more than 5 billion vaccines have now been administered worldwide. But almost 75 per cent of those doses have been administered in just 10 countries. Africa has the lowest vaccination coverage at 2 per cent. This is unacceptable.

He called the G20 leaders as the largest producers, consumers and donors of COVID-19 vaccines, who hold the key to achieving vaccine equity and ending the pandemic. 

The director-general outlined four major areas of action:

  • Building new governance structures that support high-level political engagement with pandemic preparedness and response. It should be inclusive, equitable and accountable
  • More and better financing for national and global preparedness and response
  • Better systems and tools across the ‘One Health’ spectrum
  • An empowered and sustainably financed WHO at the centre of the global health architecture, to fully realise the organisation’s broad constitutional mandate

He requested the health ministers to empower the WHO by supporting initiatives that strengthen, and not weaken, its mandate. He urged them to commit to a historic reversal of the current imbalance between assessed and voluntary contributions. 

“We can never allow a pandemic on this scale to happen again. And we can never allow an injustice like this to happen again,” he added.

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