WHO's Tedros sets 100-day deadline to vaccinate healthcare workers worldwide

Director general wants rich countries to share surplus vaccines with developing nations

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The director general of the World Health Organisation has urged all countries to vaccinate all health workers against the coronavirus in the next 100 days.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivered a recorded video address to the Goals House January Dialogues event on Tuesday, where he further outlined plans for rich countries to share surplus vaccines with the developing world.

Dr Tedros said the rapid discovery of the vaccine was a “stunning scientific achievement”.

But he said all but one of the 47 countries that have started administering the vaccine were higher-income nations.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) speaks during the opening of the 148th session of the Executive Board on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Geneva, Switzerland, January 18, 2021.  Christopher Black/WHO/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of the WHO has urged the globe to step up vaccination of global healthcare workers. Reuters.

“Sharing vaccines is not just the right thing to do. It is in every country's best interests," Dr Tedros said.

"Vaccinating equitably will save lives, stabilise health systems and drive a truly global recovery. It will also limit the potential for the virus to mutate.

“The WHO is calling on all countries and companies to prioritise supply and rollout through Covax.

"We urge countries that have contracted more vaccines than they need, and are controlling the global supply, to share access nodes with Covax immediately, which is ready today to roll out quickly.

“I have called for a collective commitment, so that within 100 days vaccination for health workers, and those at higher risk in all countries, are under way.

"Science has delivered. Now, the international community must do the same.”

Covax is co-led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the WHO.

It aims to accelerate the development and manufacture of Covid-19 vaccines and guarantee equitable access for every country in the world.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the event that the globe must “work together” to ensure those in poorer countries have some supplies of the vaccine.

“[This year]  brings a measure of hope," Mr Guterres said in a recorded message. "Covid vaccines are developed in record time but supplies are scarce.

"We are seeing a massive difference in vaccines reaching rich countries quickly, while poorer countries have nothing at all.

“All countries need some doses now to vaccine all health workers and frontline workers, instead of some countries getting them all.

"We must make ensure that vaccines are seen as a global public good. This is in every country’s interest.”

On Tuesday, the EU's health chief said the bloc wanted to set up a way to share surplus vaccines with poorer neighbouring states and Africa.

The move that might undercut the Covax scheme.

The EU has secured nearly 2.3 billion Covid-19 vaccines and potential treatments from six companies, although most still need regulatory approval.

"We are working with member states to propose a European mechanism to share vaccines beyond our borders," Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides told EU legislators on Tuesday.