Director-General of World Trade Organisation, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has urged rich nations to export more COVID-19 vaccines, singling out the U.K. and U.S.
Over 80 percent of about a billion doses administered globally were in the richer countries, even as she stressed the need to ensure poor countries aren’t left behind if the world wants to get through the pandemic.
“Vaccine nationalism and inequity doesn’t work,” Mrs Okonjo-Iweala said at a virtual trade policy event hosted on Monday by the European Commission.
“I would urge those countries that are not sharing, or exporting, to do so as quickly as possible,” Okonjo-Iweala said.
Her call for fairness comes as inoculation campaigns have been progressing at starkly different rates between wealthy western countries, which have vaccinated significant parts of their population, and poorer nations in the developing world that struggle with vaccine supplies.
India, in particular, is in the grips of one of the world’s worst outbreaks since the pandemic began more than a year ago.
While more than a billion doses have been administered globally, more than 400 million of those have been shots given to people in the U.S., the U.K. and the European Union. The WTO chief praised the EU, China and India for their exports of vaccines.
The EU has so far authorised the export of 136.1 million doses to 43 countries. Around 52.3 million were shipped to Japan, 16.2 million to the U.K. and 12.8 million to Canada.
“It’s not acceptable that 80 per cent or more of the present doses administered are largely in the richer countries,” Okonjo-Iweala said. “If we don’t pay quick attention to getting vaccines to everyone, the world will simply not be safe.”
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