If we end inequity, we end the pandemic: WHO D-G

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 14 December 2021: The WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom has come out strongly against inequity generated by gap in the global rates of vaccination between countries. 41 countries have still not been able to vaccinate 10 percent of their populations, and 98 countries have not reached the 40 percent mark.

At a media conference in Geneva the WHO D-G minced no words when he said, “Let me be very clear: WHO is not against boosters. We’re against inequity. Our main concern is to save lives, everywhere. It’s really quite simple: the priority in every country, and globally, must be to protect the least protected, not the most protected.

If we end inequity, we end the pandemic. If we allow inequity to continue, we allow the pandemic to
continue.”

Commenting on the booster doses being administered by some rich countries he said, ” The emergence of Omicron has prompted some countries to roll out booster programmes for their entire adult populations, even while we lack evidence for the effectiveness of boosters against this variant.

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WHO is concerned that such programmes will repeat the vaccine hoarding we saw this year, and exacerbate inequity.

It’s clear that as we move forward, boosters could play an important role, especially for those at highest risk of severe disease death.

Let me be very clear: WHO is not against boosters. We’re against inequity. Our main concern is to save lives, everywhere.

It’s a question of prioritization. Who gets what vaccines, in what order?

He added: ” The order matters. Giving boosters to groups at low risk of severe disease or death simply endangers the lives of those at high risk who are still waiting for their primary doses because of supply constraints.

On the other hand, giving additional doses to people at high risk can save more lives than giving primary doses to those at low risk.

Together, we will save the most lives by making sure health workers, older people and other at-risk groups receive their primary doses of vaccines.

In most countries, those being hospitalized and dying are those who have not been vaccinated. So the priority must be to vaccinate the unvaccinated, even in countries with most access to vaccines.

It’s really quite simple: the priority in every country, and globally, must be to protect the least protected, not the most protected.

There remains a vast gap in rates of vaccination between countries.”

He concluded: “If we end inequity, we end the pandemic. If we allow inequity to continue, we allow the pandemic to continue.”

LATEST WHO COVID-19 MEDIA BRIEFING

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Neeraj Nanda

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