The world “desperately needs” rich countries to deliver on its pledges to donate Covid-19 vaccines to poorer nations, former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said Monday.
Her comment came after health ministers from the Group of 20 Leading Economies reportedly agreed at the first of their two-day meeting in Rome to ensure that Covid vaccines reach everyone in poor countries.
“The promises are one thing, but we urgently need these promises to be fulfilled. As of last week, only 89 million doses had been redistributed from high-income countries to low- and middle-income countries, “Clark told CNBC’s” Capital Association. “
Clark co-chaired an independent panel set up by the World Health Organization to review global pandemic preparedness and response.
The panel released its final report in May, recommending that high-income countries redistribute at least one billion doses of Covid vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income countries by September 1 and an additional billion doses by mid-2022.
Overdoses in rich countries
Experts – including famous epidemiologist Larry Brilliant – have said that broader vaccination coverage is needed to limit new coronavirus variants and put an end to the global pandemic.
But of the more than 5 billion Covid vaccine doses given worldwide, nearly 75% were given in just 10 countries, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a speech at the G-20 health ministers’ meeting on Sunday.
Tedros has repeatedly urged rich nations to withhold Covid vaccine boosters to allow poorer countries to vaccinate more of their populations with first doses.
Rich countries have the “spare cans,” said Clark. This can help meet WHO’s goal of vaccinating 40% of each country’s population by the end of this year and then increasing that number to 70% by the middle of next year, she added.
“We have to live up to this if we have a chance to contain the pandemic,” said Clark.
An analysis by Airfinity, a scientific information and analysis company, predicted that wealthy nations would have more than 1.2 billion doses of Covid vaccines available for donation by 2021.
That number of overdoses was calculated after considering the needs of affluent countries, including booster syringes, Airfinity said.