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Poor nations await COVID-19 shots as rich nations take away lion's share: media

Xinhua | Updated: 2021-09-08 15:39
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Bianca Nfonoyim, a Children's Hospital of Philadelphia pediatrics resident, gives out second doses of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at the Philadelphia Zoo in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US, September 7, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

NEW DELHI - Rich nations are taking away a lion's share of the COVID-19 vaccines even as the poorer and third-world nations are yearning for them, said a Bloomberg report carried by an Indian English daily Business Standard on Tuesday.

The poorest nations are still waiting for anything beyond a trickle of the life-saving doses, "because many lack the financial clout to secure contracts for COVID-19 vaccines on their own, they depend for supplies largely on COVAX, an initiative backed by groups including the World Health Organization that was designed to provide fair access to the shots for every country. And COVAX has fallen short of its goals," said the report.

Citing United Nations figures, it said that while 57 percent of people in high-income countries had received at least one dose of vaccine by Aug. 30, the figure in low-income countries was just 2 percent.

Health advocates worry that the imbalance will be aggravated by plans in wealthy countries to provide booster shots to fully inoculated people to combat the super-contagious delta variant of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The uneven distribution has prompted proposals to expand production of COVID-19 vaccine shots, reallocate rich countries' excess doses, and ensure vaccines are deployed more equitably in future pandemics, said the report.

"As inoculations were being developed, a number of affluent countries signed advance contracts with a variety of companies, securing the lion's share of initial doses. The US, as part of its multibillion-dollar programme hastening the development of vaccines, also used wartime powers to require manufacturers to fill massive U.S. government orders first," the report added.

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