WHO calls for urgent action to ramp-up production of COVID-19 vaccines

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WHO calls for urgent action to ramp-up production of COVID-19 vaccines

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says urgent action is needed to increase production of COVID-19 vaccines that will be distributed through the global initiative making these medicines accessible to all countries.

The WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, made the call at biweekly news briefing on COVID-19 at WHO headquarters in Geneva.

In his speech posted on WHO’s website and obtained Monday, he said the development was a landmark week for COVAX.

He stated that COVAX has delivered more than 20 million doses of vaccine to 20 countries while another 14.4 million doses would be added this week to increase benefiting countries to 31.

Ghebreyesus said the volume of doses being distributed through COVAX was still relatively small.

“One of our main priorities now is to increase the ambition of COVAX to help all countries end the pandemic. This means urgent action to ramp up production. Next week, WHO and our COVAX partners will meet with partners from governments and the industry to identify bottlenecks in production and discuss how to solve them,’’ he said.

Ghebreyesus also said this was a landmark week for COVAX, with the first vaccinations starting in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

In addition to those two countries, COVAX had now delivered vaccines to Angola, Cambodia, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Gambia, India, Kenya, Lesotho and Malawi.

He said COVAX had also delivered vaccines to Mali, Moldova, Nigeria, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Senegal, Sudan and Uganda.

The director-general said WHO and its COVAX partners would meet with government and industry representatives next week to identify bottlenecks and relevant solutions.

“We currently face several barriers to increasing the speed and volume of production, from export bans to shortages of raw materials including glass, plastic and stoppers,’’ he said.

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