In the few weeks since the UK became the first country to approve a fully trialled Covid-19 vaccine in early December and Margaret Keenan, a 90-year-old woman from Coventry, became the first to receive the jab outside a trial, tens of millions of doses have already been administered.
But amid the rush to vaccinate people against Covid-19, the director-general of the World Health Organization made a shocking announcement: ‘More than 39 million doses of vaccine have now been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries. Just 25 doses have been given in one lowest-income country. Not 25 million; not 25 thousand; just 25.’
Warning that the world was ‘on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure’, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the price of prioritising bilateral deals, going around the Covax vaccine-sharing alliance, driving up prices and trying to jump the queue would be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries.
‘It’s not right,’ he said, ‘that younger, healthier adults in rich countries are vaccinated before health workers and older people in poorer countries.’
He pointed out that the ‘me-first approach’ was also self-defeating, as it would only prolong the pandemic and all its attendant restrictions.
‘Vaccine equity is not just a moral imperative, it is a strategic and economic imperative,’ Tedros told the WHO executive board’s annual meeting.
The 25 lucky recipients of Russia’s Sputnik vaccine were in Guinea, the Guardian reported. And one of them was the president, Alpha Condé.