Canada must do more to help low-vaccinated nations: WHO agency

WHO sounds alarm - again - over inequitable vaccine distribution

Scott Laurie 2 minute read December 2, 2021

Countries like Canada need to do more to help poor nations get their hands on vaccine doses if they want to prevent the emergence of even more new variants like Omicron, says a World Health Organization group.

“It’s not just a matter of fairness and equity, it’s an issue of really shooting ourselves in the foot,” said Dr. Arlene King, co-chair of the Independent Allocation Vaccine Group, of the World Health Organization.

“Omicron just highlights all of the problems that we have raised.”

King said poor nations are not getting enough vaccines, making them petri-dishes for new variants that can spread quickly. About 8 billion vaccines have been administered globally.

About 590 million of those have been distributed by COVAX — an initiative to ensure vaccines are also distributed to lower-income countries.

“There have been 30 times more vaccines administered in high-income countries than in low-income countries,” King noted.

During Tuesday’s federal response to the new variant, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos touted Canada’s ability to secure vaccine contracts.

“We have 420 million doses on order and therefore sufficient to give Canadians the vaccines they need,” he said.

That would be enough to vaccinate every Canadian  –  three times  –  for about 3 1/2 years.

“Every country has generally tended to look after themselves,” King added.

“It’s a pandemic.  Countries have not been used to having to think in a dual-tract way in order to be able to — not just address their own interests  — but also the global interest, as well.”

Wednesday, at the  World Health Assembly WHO Director-General , Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “the COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the many flaws in the global system to protect people from pandemics:   the most vulnerable people going without vaccines; health workers without needed equipment to perform their life-saving work; and ‘me-first’ approaches that stymie the global solidarity needed to deal with a global threat.”

That threat is now poised to potentially get even more dire due to Omicron.

 

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