WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus (Anadolu photo)

GENEVA – With 82 countries at risk of missing a global vaccination target by end of this year, the World Health Organization chief on Saturday urged nations that have reached 40 percent vaccination target to swap delivery schedules with vaccine sharing facilities.

WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus told a meeting of the G20 summit in Rome that 7 billion vaccine doses against Covid-19 have been administered globally, but issued caution.

“Low-income countries, most of them in Africa, have received just 0.4 percent of those vaccines; more than 80 percent have gone to G20 countries,” said Tedros.

He explained that vaccine equity is not charity but is in every country’s best interests.

“We welcome your support for WHO’s targets to vaccinate 40 percent of the population of all countries by the end of this year and 70 percent by mid-2022,” said Tedros, adding that 82 countries are at risk of missing that target.

“For most, the barrier is not absorptive capacity; it’s insufficient supply.”

Tedros called on those countries that have already reached the 40 percent target to swap their vaccine delivery schedules with COVAX, the global facility to achieve vaccine equity, and AVAT, the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust.

When the G2O met less than a year ago, 1.5 million people had lost their lives to Covid-19, and a year later, the toll is 5 million, said the WHO chief.

“We ask you to support local vaccine production in Africa,” he said and called on countries that have promised to donate vaccines to make urgently good on those promises.

He also pleaded with G20 nations to fully fund the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator, which needs USD23.4 billion over the next 12 months to get tests, treatments, and vaccines to where they are needed most.

Tedros called for support for an ambitious G20 Joint Finance-Health Task Force linked to a financial fund for additional pandemic preparedness and response financing.

The WHO chief also urged the G20 nations to adopt a treaty or international agreement rooted in the constitution of WHO and invest in a strengthened, financed WHO. (Anadolu)