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WHO: ‘Not right’ to vaccinate young before old

​The head of the World Health Organization says it’s “not right” that younger, healthier adults in rich countries get vaccinated against COVID-19 before older people in poorer countries.

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Geneva Updated on: January 18, 2021 18:17 IST
WHO on covid vaccination, vaccinating young before old, young before old vaccination,
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A doctor inoculates Herri Rehfeld, 92, against the new coronavirus with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at the vaccination center at the Messe Berlin trade fair grounds on the center's opening day in Berlin, Germany, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. The center is the third to open in Berlin. Three more are to open in coming weeks once shipments of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines pick up pace. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images via AP, Pool)

 

The head of the World Health Organization says it’s “not right” that younger, healthier adults in rich countries get vaccinated against COVID-19 before older people in poorer countries.

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus kicked off WHO’s week-long executive board meeting -- virtually from its headquarters in Geneva -- on Monday by lamenting that only 25 vaccine doses have been provided in a single poor country, while over 39 million doses have been administered in nearly 50 richer nations.

“Just 25 doses have been given in one lowest income country -- not 25 million, not 25,000 -- just 25. I need to be blunt,” Tedros said. He did not specify the country.

Tedros, an Ethiopian who goes by his first name, nonetheless hailed the scientific achievement behind rolling out vaccines less than a year after the pandemic erupted in China, where a WHO-backed team has now been deployed to look into origins of the coronavirus.

READ MORE: Brazil says no to Russia's Sputnik V; approves AstraZeneca, Chinese vaccines for emergency use

“Vaccines are the shot in the arm we all need, literally and figuratively,” he said. “But we now face the real danger that even as vaccines bring hope to some, they become another brick in the wall of inequality between the worlds of the world’s haves and have-nots.”

In some of his toughest public words yet against vaccine makers, Tedros again criticized “bilateral deals” between drug companies and countries that hurt the ability of the WHO-backed COVAX program that aims to get vaccines to all countries based on need.

“Most manufacturers have prioritized regulatory approval in rich countries, where the profits are highest, rather than submitting″ data to WHO, he said, so it can approve vaccines for wider use.

READ MORE: India's vaccination drive: 2,24,301 people inoculated so far; 447 adverse events reported

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