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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

UNICEF and WHO call on a more equitable COVID-19 vaccine strategy

Health Industry Hub | February 12, 2021 |

Pharma News: Of the 128 million vaccine doses administered so far, more than three quarters of those vaccinations are in just 10 countries that account for 60% of global GDP.

Almost 130 countries, with 2.5 billion people, are yet to administer a single dose.

In a joint statement UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “This self-defeating strategy will cost lives and livelihoods, give the virus further opportunity to mutate and evade vaccines and will undermine a global economic recovery.”

UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) and WHO (World Health Organisation) call on leaders to look beyond their borders and employ a vaccine strategy that can actually end the pandemic and limit variants.

Thomas Cueni, Director General, International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) said “The leading vaccine and medicine biopharmaceutical companies share the need for urgency to ensure that COVAX is able, at speed, to make vaccines available to healthcare workers and the vulnerable, wherever they live. We empathise with and are supportive of calls for leaders of countries with the large numbers of secured doses to show solidarity and support COVAX by sharing doses, in particular aiming for protection of frontline health care workers in low income countries.  

“From the outset of this pandemic, as an industry, we knew that time was not on our side. Having condensed four or more  years of vaccine development into less than a year, through unparalleled partnerships, underpinned by IP, we now have one vaccine that the WHO has been approved and others hopefully will be approved shortly. No time has been wasted between the regulatory approval and signing of supply agreements with COVAX and we continue to see partnerships across the industry to scale up manufacturing on an unprecedented scale. 

“COVAX’s achievements to date are impressive; as a partner to ACT-A, we will continue to do all we can to support it delivering the 2 billion doses target for 2021. Never before have we seen a roll out of new vaccines at such speed. But understanding the urge for early and equitable vaccine rollout, we warn against setting unrealistic expectations given the inherent risk of vaccine development and the complexity of scaling up manufacturing from scratch,” Mr Cueni added.

COVAX participating countries are preparing to receive and use vaccines. Health workers have been trained, cold chain systems primed. What’s missing is the equitable supply of vaccines, according to UNICEF and WHO.

UNICEF and WHO say that global leadership is needed to scale up vaccine production and achieve vaccine equity.

“COVID-19 has shown that our fates are inextricably linked. Whether we win or lose, we will do so together,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.


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