95% of vaccines used in just 10 countries: UN body


NEW DELHI: The UN office for disaster risk reduction (UNDRR) has said that the world health organization is struggling to raise $4 billion for securing Covid-19 vaccines for the low and middle-income countries to combat the worst disaster to have hit humanity.
“It is a troubling situation that 95% of the vaccines that have been administered so far have been used in just 10 countries,” said Mami Mizutori, head of the UNDRR.
The UNDRR has urged rich nations to contribute generously while pointing out how even during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which affected just 14 countries, more than $6 billion was raised to help people.
As on January 20, 53.8 million vaccine doses have been administered to people across the world. The US leads with 16.53 million doses already administered to its population, followed by China at 15 million, UK-5 million, Israel-3 million, UAE-2.16 million and Germany, Italy, Turkey, Spain and Russia, each having administered over a million of its population, according to Our World in Data, a Covid-vaccine monitor run by researchers from the Oxford University.
“The roll-out must start somewhere but low and middle-income countries with large exposed populations are being overlooked. I urge the international community to fund the COVAX initiative without delay so that immunity is not the privilege of the few but the right of all,” Mizutori said.
She expressed concern for the fact that not many countries are “as forthcoming in the generous way that we saw after the Indian Ocean tsunami which killed 2,28,000 people”. Mizutori called for increased support for poor nations which are finding it difficult to manage the pandemic in absence of resources.
Covid-19 has already claimed more than two million lives in less than a year. The poor nations need further support to strengthen their public health systems to prepare for future epidemics and pandemics, the UNDRR chief said.
The Oxford researchers have pointed out that no one wins the race, unless the entire humanity is brought under the anti-Covid shield, immunised and herd immunity created to weaken the mutating virus. As they say, “Only if we end the pandemic everywhere can we end the pandemic anywhere.”
The 1918 Spanish flu had shown us, shutting down borders may be of little help in controlling the pandemic. The world was less connected then, still it had huge casualties, particularly when the second wave of the pandemic hit countries.
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