It is not yet time to start vaccinating children against COVID-19, the World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom said on Friday at a media briefing, instead urging countries who have vaccinated their elderly to donate vaccines to other countries.
“I understand why some countries want to vaccinate their children and adolescents, but right now I urge them to reconsider and to instead donate vaccines to COVAX,” said Tedros.
The WHO chief noted that there was still a huge imbalance in the world’s vaccination efforts, as many poor countries still struggle to obtain the life-saving shots.
“At present, only 0.3% of COVID-19 vaccine supply is going to low-income countries,” he said. “Trickle down vaccination is not an effective strategy for fighting a deadly respiratory virus.”
A little over 22 million doses have been administered in Africa, accounting for less than 2 percent of the 1.3 billion COVID-19 vaccines given globally so far.
The continent has struggled to obtain doses of the jabs, with the most affected countries being those that rely entirely on COVAX.
Tedros in his media briefing noted that to saving lives and livelihoods from the pandemic, the world needs to bolster both public health measures and vaccination – not one or the other.
He expressed delight at recent developments aimed at containing the pandemic.
“Vaccine supply remains a key challenge, but this week I have been pleased to see leaders and manufacturers working to address some of these issues,” he said.
More global leaders have thrown their weights behind a proposal by South Africa and India to have a vaccine patent waiver to enable more countries to manufacture the vital inoculations.
This, they argue, would boost the number of vaccines available, thus allowing more nations to vaccinate their populations faster.