The global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is progressing at "two alarmingly different speeds", UN agency leaders said.
In a statement on Friday, several UN agencies noted that less than two percent of adults are fully vaccinated in most low-income countries compared to almost 50 percent in high-income.
"The global rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is progressing at two alarmingly different speeds. Less than 2 percent of adults are fully vaccinated in most low-income countries compared to almost 50 percent in high-income countries," UN agencies said in a statement.
The heads of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO) and World Trade Organization (WTO) met with the leaders of the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT), Africa CDC, Gavi and UNICEF to rapidly scale-up vaccines in low- and lower-middle-income countries, particularly in Africa.
"These countries, the majority of which are in Africa, simply cannot access sufficient vaccine to meet even the global goals of 10 percent coverage in all countries by September and 40 percent by end 2021, let alone the African Union's goal of 70 percent in 2022", the UN officials said.
A crisis of vaccine inequity is driving a "dangerous divergence" in COVID-19 survival rates and in the global economy, the agency heads stated, expressing gratitude for "the important work" of AVAT and COVAX in trying to address the "unacceptable situation".
However, effectively tackling this acute vaccine supply shortage in low- and lower-middle-income countries, and fully enabling AVAT and COVAX, requires the urgent cooperation of vaccine manufacturers, vaccine-producing countries, and countries that have already achieved high vaccination rates, the statement added.