The WHO Chief, however, said that it was important to remember that COVID-19 was just one of a number of major disease outbreaks facing communities across the world.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it is in countries self-interest to shun vaccine nationalism and work toward the equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, noting that people must come first over short-term profits.
WHO’s Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus, said this at the first COVID-19 news conference for the year at WHO headquarters in Geneva.
Vaccine nationalism is when a country manages to secure doses of vaccines for its own citizens and prioritises its own domestic markets before they are made available in other countries.
This is done through pre-purchase agreements between a government and a vaccine manufacturer.
In a series of tweets posted on the UN health agency Twitter account @WHO, Ghebreyesus also urged all governments to be committed to equitable distribution of the vaccine.
“I urge all governments to work together and live up to their commitments to equitable distribution globally and all pharmaceutical groups to boost supply as quickly as possible and to fully participate in COVAX,’’ he said.
According to him, vaccination of health workers against COVID-19 and those at high risk of serious disease is the fastest way to stabilise health systems.
“Vaccinating health workers and those at high risk of serious disease is the fastest way to stablise health systems, ensure all essential health services are up and running and that a truly global economic recovery can take place.
“We owe it morally to health workers everywhere who have been fighting this pandemic around the clock for the best part of a year to vaccinate them all as soon as possible.’’