Nations that host potential COVID-19 vaccines while avoiding others would intensify the pandemic, World Health Organization (WHO) head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Tuesday, making a last-ditch call for countries to join a global vaccine pact. The WHO has an August 31 deadline for developed nations to join the “COVAX Global Vaccinations Center” to exchange hopefuls for vaccinations with developing nations. Tedros said he has sent a letter urging participation to the 194 member states of the WHO.
The global health agency also raised fears that the spread of the pandemic was now being propelled by younger people, many of whom were unaware of being infected, posing a threat to vulnerable groups. As the European Union, Britain, Switzerland and the United States reach agreement with companies testing prospective vaccines, Tedros’ drive for nations to join COVAX comes as. Russia and China are working on vaccines as well, and the WHO fears that national interests can hinder global efforts.
“We need to prevent vaccine nationalism,” Tedros told a virtual briefing. “Sharing finite supplies strategically and globally is actually in each country’s national interest.” EU states have been advised by the European Commission to circumvent the WHO-led program, citing concerns about its expense and pace. More than 21.9 million people worldwide were confirmed to have been infected with the novel coronavirus and 772,647 died, according to a Reuters count.