Inequity in vaccine distribution unacceptable, says Okonjo-Iweala
Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has stated that the current inequity in vaccine distribution by developed countries is “not acceptable”.
World leaders are clamouring for vaccine equality to combat the global pandemic.
Recall that President of the African Development Bank in June had advised African nations to start producing and not beg for COVID-19 vaccines.
Okonjo-Iweala while speaking in an interview with CNN via zoom on Wednesday, Okonjo-Iweala addressed inequity in the distribution of vaccines.
She also talked about the role of the WTO to ensure free trading on the manufacturing and availability of vaccines and Pfizer’s announcement to start manufacturing in Africa.
“The current inequity we see is not acceptable by stretch of imagination, I mean the good news is 1.1 billion more doses were produced in June, 45 percent higher than May. The bad news is that of this amount to only 1.4 percent went to Africa, and only 0.24 percent to low-income countries,” she said.
“However, there is a donning on everyone, including rich countries and manufacturers. It is in the interest of rich countries to support poor countries to get good access. We are hoping that this donning will lead to changes.”
Speaking on the role played by the WTO in getting more vaccines to developing countries, the director-general said “everyone” is happy about the responsibility shouldered by Pfizer, by starting to manufacture vaccines in Africa.
Although she slightly faulted the obvious reasons that caused the development to happen late, Okonjo-Iweala said she recognises the “difficulties” facing manufacturers in terms of access to raw materials, supplies, supply chain and quality partners.
“The WTO is really playing a role in trying to make sure we get access to vaccine in trying to make sure we boost production, so members and manufacturers are interested in free trade because any blockage of supply change means we cannot scale up production,” she said.
“Actually in the meeting we had today, there was a universal call for free trade, free movement of goods, and services with respect to vaccine manufacture and the WHO is playing a very strong role in that.