COVID-19 vaccines should be classified as a global public good- WHO chief

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Salvatore di Nolfi/EPA
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Salvatore di Nolfi/EPA

The World Health Organisation has advised countries that COVID-19 vaccines should be classified as a global public good.

The Director General of the UN health agency, Tedros Ghebreyesus, on the organisation’s website said classification of the vaccine as public good for health is in order to bring the pandemic to an end.

“COVID-19 vaccines should be classified as a global public good for health in order to bring the pandemic to an end,” he said, adding that this is one of the four critical points from the resolution by World Health Assembly.

Mr Ghebreyesus said the resolution by the World Health Assembly on Tuesday sets out a clear roadmap of the critical activities and actions that must be taken to sustain and accelerate the response at the national and international levels.

“It assigns responsibilities for both the WHO and its member states, and captures the comprehensive whole of government and whole of society approach we have been calling for since the beginning of the outbreak,” he said.

The WHO chief said if the resolution is implemented, it would ensure a more coherent, coordinated and fairer response that saves both lives and livelihoods.

“The landmark resolution underlines WHO’s key role in promoting access to safe, effective health technologies to fight the pandemic,” he said.

Long road to freedom

WHO reports that in the last 24 hours, there have been 106,000 cases reported, the most in a single day since the outbreak began.

“But two thirds of these cases were reported in just four countries,” Mr Ghebreyesus said.

Mr Ghebreyesus commended the Republic of South Korea for building on their experience of MERS to quickly implement a comprehensive strategy.

Also, to find, isolate, test and care for every case, and trace every contact.

“This was critical to the Republic of Korea curtailing the first wave and now quickly identifying and containing new outbreaks,” he said.

However, Mr Ghebreyesus is concerned about the rising numbers of cases in low- and middle-income countries.

Support to member states

“WHO is supporting Member States to ensure supply chains remain open and medical supplies reach health workers and patients,” he said.

He recognised the risk to life from any suspension of essential services, like child immunisation while battling COVID-19, and ensuring health systems continue to function is an equally high priority.

“The climate crisis is causing increasingly strong storms, abnormal weather patterns and catastrophic shocks,” the WHO chief said.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: WHO, NMA warn against lifting movement restrictions too early

Super cyclone Amphan is one of the biggest in years and is currently bearing down on Bangladesh and India.

“Our thoughts are with those affected and we recognize that like with COVID-19 there is a serious threat to life, particularly the poorest and most marginalized communities,” he added .

WHO says it continues to offer support to Bangladesh and India to tackle both COVID-19 and the effects of the super cyclone.

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