WHO leader warns unfair vaccine ‘prolongs’ coronavirus pandemic

Unequal access to the Covid-19 vaccine around the world “prolongs” the coronavirus pandemic, a World Health Organization (WHO) leader warned at a global care conference.

Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s Covid-19 technical leader, described the inadequacy of the vaccine as “absolutely outrageous”.

“A lot of vaccines have been wasted [and] too many vaccines are not being used properly “

Maria Van Kerkhove

The latest data suggests that, on average, only two out of five health workers are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to Dr Van Kerkhove.

The situation is even worse in the African region, where no one in 10 has been fully vaccinated, he said.

“This is absolutely pathetic. We all need to continue to fight for vaccine equity, ”Dr Van Kerkhove added.

“We have enough vaccines that, if distributed correctly, can protect those most at risk of serious illness and our frontline workers.

“Without proper vaccination, we will continue to see explosions in those under protected, which will continue to fill our health systems.”

He stressed particular concern about the fact that some countries now deliver Covid-19 amplifiers, when many individuals in other countries have not yet received their initial dose.

“A lot of vaccines have been wasted [and] too many vaccines are not used in the most appropriate epidemiologically, economically, ethically; and frankly, this inappropriate use of the vaccine is now prolonging the pandemic, ”added Dr Van Kerkhove.

Her comments came at a panel session at the annual congress of the International Council of Nurses on Tuesday.

The WHO leader was accompanied by ICN’s outgoing president, Annette Kennedy, who described the unfair distribution of the Covid-19 jab around the world as “very sad”.

For months the ICN, among others, has called for more efforts around the world to ensure vaccine fairness, especially among health and care workers, but Ms Kennedy said it has not been met.

For example, he said: “We know that in Africa and in low-income countries, that they are not protected, they are not vaccinated.”

Although vaccines remain important in the response to Covid-19, the WHO emphasizes the need for a “comprehensive approach” to lower the virus, which also includes wearing a mask, hand hygiene, physical travel. and good ventilation in buildings.

“We really need governments to look at vaccinating frontline healthcare workers, and especially our students as well”

Elizabeth Adams

Meanwhile, at a separate ICN congressional session on Thursday, concerns were raised that, in countries offering boosters, they are not being offered to health and care workers.

Elizabeth Adams, president of the European Federation of Nurse Associations, said it was wrong that some governments did not prioritize nurses for the booster dose.

“We have a problem now with weak vaccinations where they don’t know how long [people are] fully vaccinated, and now they are talking about booster doses, ”he said.

“And one of the most worrying things about booster doses is that they don’t come out and say that frontline healthcare workers have to receive booster doses.

“They were probably one of the first to be vaccinated in the early days, so they’re the brightest possible today.

“We really need governments to look at vaccinating frontline healthcare workers, and especially our students as well.”

The UK is one of the countries in the world that delivers booster vaccinations.

It is currently six weeks to launch a booster jab program for frontline health and care staff, those aged 50 and above, and other vulnerable groups.

A government spokesman says it is “important for everyone who qualifies for their booster jab to get it when they are offered, to ensure that all the most vulnerable to Covid-19 receive the best possible protection as we head into the winter months ”.

They added that the UK continues to work to ensure that vaccines that are not needed in the UK are “transferred to other countries that need them, if possible”.

“The UK will donate 100 million overdoses of the vaccine by the middle of next year and we have already delivered over nine million doses to developing countries across Africa and Asia,” the spokesperson said. .

A total of £ 548m has also been “pledged” by the UK to support COVAX-a WHO-led group, which supports vaccine development and is working to ensure fair and equitable access to vaccine for all countries.

More than 400 million vaccines have been given to 144 of the world’s poorest countries and territories through COVAX, a government spokesperson added.

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