Workers downloading a shipment of the Covishield vaccine of the AstraZeneca laboratory from a plane coming from Amsterdam, as part of an agreement with the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX), in Ezeiza airport, Buenos Aires province, Argentina on April 18, 2021. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

International news

Highlighting the gap of vaccinations between high-income countries and low and lower-middle countries, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday said that the world is at risk of 'vaccine apartheid'.

Speaking at the Paris Peace Forum Spring Meeting, Ghebreyesus said: "I think I would go one step further and say not just that the world is at risk of vaccine apartheid; the world is in vaccine apartheid."

"As you know, high-income countries account for 15 per cent of the world's population, but have 45 per cent of the world's vaccines. Low- and lower-middle countries account for almost half of the world's population, but have received just 17 per cent of the world's vaccines. So the gap is really huge," he further remarked.

The WHO chief further highlighted that at least 63 million doses of vaccines have been shipped to 124 countries and economies, but they represent just 0.5 per cent of the combined population of those nations.

He also noted that the basic problem of vaccine inequity was a lack of sharing, which could be resolved by sharing financial resources to fully fund the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, sharing doses with COVAX and sharing technology to scale up the manufacturing of vaccines.

"Even now, some high-income countries are moving to vaccinate children and adolescents, while health workers, older people and other at-risk groups around the world remain unvaccinated," said Ghebreyesus.

Earlier, US President Joe Biden on Monday (local time) announced that the United States will share 80 million vaccine doses globally over the next six weeks, five times more than any other country has shared to date which represents 13 percent of vaccines produced in the country by June end.

Biden during his address said, "Today, we're taking an additional step to help the world. We know America will never be fully safe until the pandemic, that's rising globally, is under control. No ocean is wide enough, no walls high enough to keep us safe."

Source: ANI