WHO / COVID-19 UPDATE

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22-Mar-2021 00:05:02
World Health Programme (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, "the gap between the number of vaccines administered in rich countries, and the number of vaccines administered through COVAX is growing every day and becoming more grotesque every day.” WHO

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STORY: WHO / COVID-19 UPDATE
TRT: 05:02
SOURCE: WHO
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LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 22 MARCH 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND / FILE

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FILE - GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

1. Wide shot, exterior WHO Headquarters

22 MARCH 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

2. Wide shot, press briefing room
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Programme (WHO):
“The gap between the number of vaccines administered in rich countries, and the number of vaccines administered through COVAX is growing every day and becoming more grotesque every day. Countries that are now vaccinating younger, healthy people at low risk of disease are doing so at the cost of the lives of health workers, older people and other at-risk groups in other countries. The world’s poorest countries wonder whether rich countries really mean what they say when they talk about solidarity. The inequitable distribution of vaccines is not just a moral outrage. It's also economically and epidemiologically self-defeating."
4. Wide shot, press briefing room
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Programme (WHO):
"If countries won’t share vaccines for the right reasons, we appeal to them to do it out of self-interest. There are some countries that have set a great example. The Republic of Korea, despite being a high-income country that could easily afford to buy vaccines through bilateral deals, has waited its turn for vaccines through COVAX. WHO is continuing to workday and night to find solutions to increase the production and equitable distribution of vaccines.”
6. Wide shot, press briefing room
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Programme (WHO):
“So far, AstraZeneca is the only company that has committed to not profiting from its COVID-19 vaccine during the pandemic. And so far, it’s the only vaccine developer that has made a significant contribution to vaccine equity, by licensing its technology to several other companies, including SK Bio in the Republic of Korea and the Serum Institute of India, which are producing more than 90 percent of the vaccines that have so far been distributed through COVAX. We need more vaccine producers to follow this example and license their technology to other companies.”
8. Wide shot, press briefing room
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Bruce Aylward, Senior Advisor to the Director-General, World Health Programme (WHO) and Head, ACT-Accelerator Coordination Hub:
"Our big, big concern remains the concern that these vaccines aren't getting to the most vulnerable and needy populations in every country around the world. The issue right now, is there's simply not enough vaccine to get to the health care workers of the low-income countries and to get to, obviously, the older populations in those countries. And right now, this is not a financial issue. Right now, this is a problem of access to the product itself. So, it's not a differential issue around vaccines and vaccine prices. The issue right now is the control of the supply is held by a limited number of countries that have procured most of the doses and the early access to those doses. And what we're trying to do is find mechanisms, whether through dose sharing, through donations, through exchanging places in the queue for contracts so that we can move up the line further those doses that need to go to the COVAX Facility so that they can get populations everywhere."
10. Wide shot, press briefing room
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr Mike Ryan, Executive Director, Health Emergencies Programme, World Health Programme (WHO):
"In terms of the European experience, many countries coming out of restrictive measures without good surveillance, without high levels of vaccine coverage, with a huge amount of fatigue at play and understandable fatigue, is a recipe for larger outbreaks at community level. And again, the formula for this may be boring, it may not be attractive, and there are no silver bullets. But we have got to get back to strong, comprehensive, strategic approaches to the control of COVID, that include vaccination as one of those strategies. I'm afraid we're all trying to grasp at straws. We're trying to find the golden solutions. So, we just get enough vaccine and we push enough vaccine to people and that's going to take care of it. I'm sorry, it's not."

STORYLINE:

World Health Programme (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus today (22 Mar) said, "the gap between the number of vaccines administered in rich countries, and the number of vaccines administered through COVAX is growing every day and becoming more grotesque every day.”

Tedros said “countries that are now vaccinating younger, healthy people at low risk of disease are doing so at the cost of the lives of health workers, older people and other at-risk groups in other countries.”

The inequitable distribution of vaccines, he said, “is not just a moral outrage. It's also economically and epidemiologically self-defeating."

The Director-General cited the Republic of Korea as having “set a great example.” He said, “despite being a high-income country that could easily afford to buy vaccines through bilateral deals, has waited its turn for vaccines through COVAX."

Tedros said “AstraZeneca is the only company that has committed to not profiting from its COVID-19 vaccine during the pandemic. And so far, it’s the only vaccine developer that has made a significant contribution to vaccine equity, by licensing its technology to several other companies, including SK Bio in the Republic of Korea and the Serum Institute of India, which are producing more than 90 percent of the vaccines that have so far been distributed through COVAX.”

The Head of the ACT-Accelerator Coordination Hub, Dr Bruce Aylward, said, “there's simply not enough vaccine to get to the health care workers of the low-income countries and to get to, obviously, the older populations in those countries.”

He said it was not a financial issue, but “a problem of access to the product itself.”

Aylward said, “the issue right now is the control of the supply is held by a limited number of countries that have procured most of the doses and the early access to those doses. And what we're trying to do is find mechanisms, whether through dose sharing, through donations, through exchanging places in the queue for contracts so that we can move up the line further those doses that need to go to the COVAX Facility so that they can get populations everywhere."

For his part, WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme Executive Director, Mike Ryan, said, “in terms of the European experience, many countries coming out of restrictive measures without good surveillance, without high levels of vaccine coverage, with a huge amount of fatigue at play and understandable fatigue, is a recipe for larger outbreaks at community level. And again, the formula for this may be boring, it may not be attractive, and there are no silver bullets. But we have got to get back to strong, comprehensive, strategic approaches to the control of COVID, that include vaccination as one of those strategies. I'm afraid we're all trying to grasp at straws. We're trying to find the golden solutions. So, we just get enough vaccine and we push enough vaccine to people and that's going to take care of it. I'm sorry, it's not."
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