Gulf Times

Rich nations urged to donate shots instead of vaccinatin­g kids


The World Health Organisati­on yesterday urged rich countries to reconsider plans to vaccinate children and instead donate Covid-19 shots to the Covax scheme that shares them with poorer nations.

The WHO is hoping more countries will follow France and Sweden in donating shots to Covax after inoculatin­g their priority population­s to help address a gulf in vaccinatio­n rates.

Canada and the US are among countries that have authorised vaccines for use in adolescent­s in recent weeks.

However, a WHO official said talks with Washington on sharing doses were under way.

“I understand why some countries want to vaccinate their children and adolescent­s, but right now I urge them to reconsider and to instead donate vaccines to #Covax,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu­s told a virtual meeting in Geneva.

Covax, which has delivered around 60mn doses so far, has struggled to meet supply targets partly because of Indian export restrictio­ns on the AstraZenec­a vaccine due to its growing epidemic.

So far, around 1.26bn doses of Covid-19 vaccine have been administer­ed globally.

Tedros also said the second year of the pandemic was set to be more deadly than the first, with India a huge concern.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday sounded the alarm over the rapid spread of the coronaviru­s through India’s vast countrysid­e , as the nation’s official tally of infections crossed 24mn and over 4,000 people died for the third straight day.

More than 160.71mn people have been reported to be infected by the coronaviru­s globally and nearly 3.5mn have died, according to a Reuters tally.

The mood also darkened in Japan where the coronaviru­s state of emergency took in another three regions just 10 weeks before the Olympics, while campaigner­s submitted a petition with more than 350,000 signatures calling for the Games to be cancelled. With Tokyo and other areas already under emergency orders until the end of May, Hiroshima, Okayama and northern Hokkaido, which will host the Olympic marathon, will now join them.

The move to combat a fourth wave putting Japan’s medical system under strain comes with public opinion firmly opposed to holding the Games this summer.

Infections have been reported in more than 210 countries and territorie­s since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

WHO officials urged caution in lifting measures that contain transmissi­on, such as mask wearing, and warned that more variants were bound to be detected.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised that fully vaccinated people did not need to wear masks outdoors and could avoid wearing them indoors in most places.

“Very few countries are at the point where they can drop these measures,” said chief scientist Soumya Swaminatha­n.

 ??  ?? Tedros said the second year of the pandemic was set to be more deadly than the first, with India a huge concern
Tedros said the second year of the pandemic was set to be more deadly than the first, with India a huge concern

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