World leaders must make a “new commitment” to a more equal distribution of coronavirus vaccines to bring the pandemic under control, the heads of four major global organisations said on June 1.
Their joint rallying cry comes as concerns rise that vaccine inequality between wealthy and poor nations is further complicating and prolonging a pandemic that has killed more than 3.5 million people globally.
Writing in the Washington Post on June 1, the heads of the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Trade Organisation (TWO) blamed the gap in vaccination programmes for the emergence of virus variants that have fuelled fresh outbreaks in the developing world.
“It has become abundantly clear that there will be no broad-based recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic without an end to the health crisis. Access to vaccination is key to both,” they said. “Ending the pandemic is possible – and requires global action now.”
The joint op-ed was penned by IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Bank president David Malpas, and WTO director general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
They called on the Group of Seven (G7) wealthy democracies to agree on a “stepped-up coordinated strategy, backed by new financing, to vaccinate the world” at their next meeting in the UK later this month.
The officials recommended the G7 agrees to fund a $50 billion plan already put forward by the IMF to accelerate the end of the pandemic.
The WHO had already decried vaccine inequality as “grotesque” in March and its chief Tedros last month asked vaccine-wealthy nations to refrain from giving shots to children and adolescents and instead donate those doses to other nations.
UN-backed programme Covax is meant to share vaccines with the poorest nations.