By Moses Emorinken, Abuja
The world is on the verge of reaching 100 million COVID-19 infections, according to Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre statistics. More than two million people have died from the virus.
But, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), said COVID vaccines could bring the global pandemic under control, with vaccinations under way in more than 50 countries. However, all but two of those countries are high- or middle-income countries.
“We must work together as one global family to ensure the urgent and equitable rollout of vaccines,” he said.
He said WHO has through the COVAX facility signed an agreement with Pfizer/BioNTech for up to 40 million doses of its vaccine.
Ghebreyesus, who stated these during a news conference, added that WHO expects almost 150 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine to be available for distribution by COVAX in the first quarter of this year, pending its emergency use listing.
Noting that COVAX is on track to deliver two billion doses of vaccines by the end of 2021, it stated that COVAX could begin delivering doses in February.
Ghebreyesus, said: “We welcome the United States’ commitment to support the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator and to join COVAX.
“Vaccines are giving us all hope of ending the pandemic and getting the global economy on the road to recovery. But we can only end the pandemic anywhere if we end it everywhere. And to do that, we need every member state, every partner and every vaccine producer on board.
“That’s why today, I’m glad to announce that COVAX has signed an agreement with Pfizer/BioNTech for up to 40 million doses of its vaccine.
“Additionally, pending WHO emergency use listing, we expect almost 150 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine to be available for distribution by COVAX in the first quarter of this year.
“Together, these announcements mean COVAX could begin delivering doses in February, provided we can finalise a supply agreement for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and emergency use listing for the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.
“COVAX is on track to deliver two billion doses by the end of this year.”
Ghebreyesus explained that the agreement opens the door for countries that are willing to share doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to donate them to COVAX and support rapid rollout.
“The commitment of the United States to join COVAX, together with this new agreement with Pfizer/BioNTech, mean that we are closer to fulfilling the promise of COVAX,” he added.
The coronavirus continues to create an unyielding and staggering path of illness and death across the United States. Johns Hopkins reported early yesterday that the U.S. has nearly 25 million COVID infections, with more than 417,000 deaths. Both tolls are the world’s highest.
India follows the U.S. caseload with 10.6 million infections and more than 153,000 deaths. Brazil has nearly nine million cases and more than 216,000 deaths.
Source: The Nation