The world must share coronavirus vaccines more equally rather than risk taking the planet to the “brink of a catastrophic moral failure” through abhorrent “vaccine nationalism,” the chief of the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) lamented Monday.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus denounced what he called the “me-first” attitude of wealthy nations and also blasted vaccine manufacturers for chasing approvals in rich countries rather than obeying calls from the W.H.O. to green-light vaccine use globally.
The career Ethiopian bureaucrat said the promise of worldwide equitable access to vaccines against the coronavirus pandemic was now at serious risk, in a speech in Geneva opening a W.H.O. executive board meeting as reported by Reuters.
Tedros said 39 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine had been administered so far in at least 49 higher income countries, noting 44 bilateral distribution deals were signed last year and at least 12 have already been signed this year.
“This could delay COVAX deliveries and create exactly the scenario COVAX was designed to avoid, with hoarding, a chaotic market, an uncoordinated response and continued social and economic disruption,” he said.
Meanwhile, “just 25 doses have been given in one lowest income country. Not 25 million; not 25,000; just 25,” he claimed as most – but not all – affected countries lurch from lockdown to lockdown with no end to the misery in sight.
Wuhan, China, party time! https://t.co/CEIZg2dhPo
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) December 21, 2020
“I need to be blunt. The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure — and the price of this failure will be paid with lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries.”
He said even as some countries pronounced reassuring words on equitable access, they were prioritising their own deals with manufacturers, driving up prices and trying to jump the line of those waiting.
“Ultimately, these actions will only prolong the pandemic, prolong our pain, the restrictions needed to contain it, and human and economic suffering,” Tedros concluded.
Despite the scolding tone taken by Tedros in addressing vaccine distribution levels, he still faces allegations both he and his organization have been negligent from the beginning in handling the crisis.
As far back as March questions were being asked about the suitability of Tedros for a leadership role, a man with no medical background, as Breitbart News reported.
Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and House Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) were among the American critics of Tedros’ performance.
Cruz described the W.H.O. director’s conduct as “deeply troubling” in a Twitter statement that linked to an article describing how Tedros got the job with extensive assistance from the Chinese Communist Party:
It is deeply troubling @WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu is helping the Chinese Communist Party obfuscate the origins and trajectory of #COVID19, at the risk of health around the globe.https://t.co/gobeAmq7Pd
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) March 25, 2020
“The actions of the Chinese Communist Party exacerbated the public health crisis plaguing the international community, and instead of prioritizing global health, Dr. Tedros and the W.H.O. played favoritism to China,” said Rubio.
McCaul said W.H.O. is a victim of the CCP’s “shadow campaign to gain and wield influence at the United Nations.”
“Now, hundreds of thousands are sick, and thousands have died. That does not deserve accolades from the W.H.O. It deserves condemnation,” he said.
A petition demanding Tedros resign from his position was launched in March and by mid-April passed over one million signatures. Tedros ignored the call and simply carried on.
Some 2,041,297 people have reportedly died from the coronavirus outbreak as of January 18.