BFF-35 WHO chief warns poor could be ‘trampled’ in vaccine push

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HEALTH-VIRUS-UN

WHO chief warns poor could be ‘trampled’ in vaccine push

UNITED NATIONS, United States, Dec 4, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – The head of
the World Health Organization warned Friday that the poor risk being
“trampled” as wealthy nations roll out Covid-19 vaccines, which he
said should be a public good.

Speaking at a virtual UN summit on the pandemic, WHO
Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the world was seeing
“light at the end of the tunnel” in the nearly year-long Covid crisis.

“But let me be clear. We simply cannot accept a world in which the
poor and marginalized are trampled by the rich and powerful in the
stampede for vaccines,” Tedros said.

“This is a global crisis and the solutions must be shared equitably
as global public goods. Not as private commodities that widen
inequalities and become yet another reason some people are left
behind,” he said.

He also warned that the world has plenty of other challenges,
saying: “There is no vaccine for poverty, no vaccine for hunger. There
is no vaccine for inequality. There is no vaccine for climate change.”

Britain has become the first Western nation to approve a vaccine
for Covid-19, with the United States and other countries expected to
follow soon and begin mass immunization drives.

A UN-backed COVAX consortium has been set up to provide vaccines
equitably around the world.

The United States has been a notable holdout, with President Donald
Trump attacking Tedros and moving to pull out of the World Health
Organization, although President-elect Joe Biden plans to stay in the
UN body.

Tedros, an Ethiopian doctor and diplomat, praised nations for
providing free vaccines, tests and treatment for Covid-19 but
questioned why similar efforts are not being devoted for earlier
diseases such as cancer, tuberculosis or HIV/AIDS — or for needs such
as maternal health.

“The pandemic has only underlined why universal health coverage is
so important,” he said.

BSS/AFP/MRU/2230hrs