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Former UK premier issues vaccination gap warning

Former UK premier issues vaccination gap warning
Special WHO ambassador Gordon Brown says denying half of world vaccines is one of 'the greatest international public policy failures'

By Peter Kenny

GENEVA (AA) - Former UK premier and current World Health Organization (WHO) ambassador Gordon Brown said Thursday that to deny half of the world COVID-19 vaccines will be one of the world's greatest international public policy failures.

Addressing a COVID-19 webinar from Scotland, Brown said it was "time to bring to an end a tragic and unacceptable but still growing divide between the global North and global South" on vaccine distribution, referring to developing and developed nations.

To deny half of the world coronavirus vaccines is "one of the greatest international public policy failures imaginable. And it's a moral catastrophe of historic proportions that will shock future generations," he said in the event, also attended by WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus, International Council of Nurses President Annette Kennedy, and head of the World Medical Association Heidi Stensmyren.

"And yet to deny them to the other half of the world is one of the greatest international public policy failures imaginable. And it's a moral catastrophe of historic proportions that will shock future generations," said Brown.

He said the 20 nations that hold "the lion's share of vaccines" needed to act to switch their stockpile of medicines and delivery contracts from the global North to the South.

"The World Health Organization's latest forecast is that there will be 200 million more COVID cases in the next year," he said, noting that three-quarters of these were projected to be in countries with mostly non-vaccinated and unprotected populations, as "5 million lives hang in the balance."

He said that with only 5% of adults vaccinated in Africa and just 1.4% in low-income countries, first-dosage targets had not been met by the Sept. 30 deadline.

- 115,000 health workers may have died

Earlier, Tedros had said that a new WHO working paper estimated that 115,000 health workers may have died from COVID-19 between January 2020 and May this year.

"That's why it's essential that health workers are prioritized for vaccination," said the WHO chief.

Citing data from 119 countries, he said that on average, two in five health and care workers globally were fully vaccinated, though this figure masked huge differences across regions and economic groupings.

"In Africa, less than one in 10 health workers have been fully vaccinated. Meanwhile, in most high-income countries, more than 80% of health workers are fully vaccinated," said Tedros.

"Today, WHO and several partner organizations have issued a statement calling for action to protect health and care workers around the world."

The WHO chief said that in 10 days, the leaders of the G20 countries would meet in Rome.

"Between now and then, roughly 500 million vaccine doses will be produced. That's the number of additional doses we need to achieve our target of vaccinating 40% of the population of every country by the end of the year," said Tedros.

He explained that 82 countries were currently at risk of missing that target.

"For three-quarters of those countries, it's simply a problem of insufficient supply. The other quarter of countries have some limitations in their ability to absorb vaccines, and we are working to address those problems."

source: News Feed
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