World Health Organization calls for equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines

16 Janvier, 2021, 11:28 | Auteur: Yves Courtet
  • WHO stops short of advising proof of Covid-19 vaccine shots for travel

As Covid-19 cases spike in parts of Europe, Africa and the Americas, and new variants of the virus emerge in some countries, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for greater global collaboration in ending the pandemic.

The World Health Organisation's emergency committee called Friday for globally-ramped up coronavirus sequencing studies in order to combat troubling new variants.

The committee issued a statement calling for upgrading national capacity for genome sequencing, and greater data sharing, in efforts to monitor and respond to changes in the virus.

The meeting was dragged forward by two weeks for urgent talks on the emerging, seemingly more contagious strains of the virus, as the death count from the Covid-19 pandemic topped two million, according to an AFP count.

The World Health Organisation on Friday (Jan 15) refrained from advising proof of Covid-19 vaccination or immunity as a condition for worldwide travel, citing "critical unknowns" regarding their efficacy in reducing transmission and limited availability.

The recently-discovered variants can only be identified by sequencing their genetic code - an analysis that is not possible everywhere.

The WHO said it wanted Covid-19 vaccination under way in every country within the next 100 days, amid concerns that rich nations are hogging the first batches coming off the production lines.

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A third mutation, originating in the Brazilian Amazon and whose discovery Japan announced on Sunday, is now being analysed and could impact the immune response, according to the WHO.

Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's Covid-19 technical lead, added: "This virus is risky on its own - variant or not".

The WHO emergency committee has come out against countries requiring proof of vaccination from incoming worldwide travellers.

Mike Ryan, WHO's top emergency expert, said: "What the committee is saying is "at this present time", scientific evidence is not complete, there isn't enough vaccine and therefore we shouldn't do that now and create an unnecessary restriction to travel".

"We don't want this to be repeated", said Tedros.

"Now is the time we must pull together as common humanity and roll out vaccines to health workers and those at highest risk'".

Mariangela Simao, WHO Assistant Director-General for Drug Access, Vaccines and Pharmaceuticals, told the press conference that so far, 38 of the 46 countries that had started vaccinations are high-income countries.

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