WHO to G20 Health Ministers: Meet COVID-19 pledges, support regional vaccine manufacturing

Despite hopes that by now the pandemic would be under control, the head of the UN’s health agency told the G20 leading industrialized nations Health Ministers Meeting in Rome on Sunday that “the opposite is true”.

Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pointed out that “many countries continue to face steep increases in cases and deaths” – despite that more than five billion vaccines have been administered globally.

“But almost 75 per cent of those doses have been administered in just 10 countries”, he explained, adding that at 2 per cent, Africa has the lowest vaccination coverage. “This is unacceptable”.

In closing the WHO chief urged the G20 health ministers to swap near-term delivery schedules with COVAX, by fulfilling dose-sharing pledges and sharing technology, know-how and intellectual property to support regional vaccine manufacturing.

He also requested that they support the development and adoption of a legally binding international agreement on pandemic preparedness and response and strengthen WHO by backing initiatives that “strengthen, not weaken, its mandate”. More