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DESPITE over a billion Covid vaccinations having taken place worldwide, just 0.3 per cent have been given to people in low-income countries, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said today.
Eighty-two per cent of inoculations have been administered in high and upper-middle income countries, director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an online health conference in Portugal.
The warning comes as tension rises over Western countries’ refusal to back an intellectual property waiver for Covid treatments, with new waves of the virus killing thousands of people in India and Brazil and prompting Turkey’s first national lockdown.
India and South Africa called for the waiver, which would allow generic manufacture of Covid vaccines in poorer countries, back in October. It has the support of over 100 nations, including China, most of Latin America and south Asia and the whole of Africa, but has been blocked by the United States, Britain, the European Union, Canada, Australia and Japan.
Multibillionaire and –— via his charities — major WHO donor Bill Gates has sought to deflect criticism of his public opposition to a patent waiver by providing “seed money” for a new global fundraising drive for Covax, an international distributor of vaccines with a remit to try to ensure equitable access.
But anger at Western obstruction is growing as India reported yet another infection record (397,257 new cases) today and another 3,645 deaths, bringing its total to 204,832, behind only Brazil and the US. Indian state governments are reporting a thriving black market in bogus treatments.
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