The WHO has sharply criticized the global imbalance in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, explaining that Africa lags far behind in terms of reaching vaccination targets.
"WHO's global targets are to support every country, to vaccinate at least 40% of its population by the end of this year and 70% of the world's population by the middle of next year. So far, just two countries in Africa have reached the 40% target, the lowest of any region.
The WHO chief said this comes despite the fact that many rich countries are beginning to offer booster shots to their citizens.
He also warned that such inequity could hurt the international community as a whole.
"The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more the virus will keep circulating and changing, the longer the social and economic disruption will continue, and the higher the chances that more variants will emerge that render vaccines less effective.”
Nevertheless, he stressed that it's a problem that can be solved, calling for pharmaceutical giants to prioritize COVAX and African Vaccine Acquisition Trust when distributing shots.
The WHO also pressed countries with high vaccination rates to swap their near-term vaccine deliveries.
The remarks come as the African Union has been imploring vaccine producers to give the continent a fair shot for market access.
The union urged vaccine manufacturing countries, especially India, to lift export restrictions on COVID-19 jabs and their components.
It added that Africa should not be just relying on global vaccine sharing, highlighting that African countries should have the opportunity to buy them directly from the manufacturers.
Out of some 5.7 billion doses administered around the world, only 2 percent have been done in Africa so far.
Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.