Dramatically increasing global manufacturing of COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments, and ensuring equitable access, is the fastest way to end the pandemic, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.
Speaking during his latest briefing from Geneva, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus pushed for more developers to support the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP), the voluntary platform for sharing scientific knowledge, data and intellectual property.
“We’re holding the door open for pharmaceutical companies that have become household names, although too few households have benefited from the life-saving tools they have developed”, he said.
“They control the IP that can save lives today, end this pandemic soon and prevent future epidemics from spiraling out of control and undermining health, economies and national security”.
Vaccine inequity unacceptable
President Alvarado Quesado, who also addressed journalists, underlined the need to protect everyone, everywhere.
“It is not acceptable that more than 50 per cent of the globally available vaccines were used in only five countries that account for 50 per cent of global GDP. Shamefully, low-income countries have received only 0.3 [per cent] of the world’s doses”, he said.
Tedros explained that contributing to C-TAP will allow qualified producers across the world to manufacture products against COVID-19.
If fully functional, it could lead to increased supply for countries and the global vaccine solidarity initiative, COVAX.
Study into COVID-19 origins ‘poisoned by politics’
Investigations into the origins of COVID-19 are being “poisoned by politics”, a senior WHO official said on Friday.
Dr. Michael Ryan, Executive Director, was responding to a journalist’s question regarding a lack of progress on the launch of a second phase following an international expert mission to China in January.
Preliminary results, announced in February, found the novel coronavirus was “extremely unlikely” to have come from a lab, but perhaps jumped from animals to humans.
Dr. Ryan noted that there have been increased media reports about the investigation in recent days “with terribly little actual news, or evidence, or new material”, which he found disturbing.
“We would, though, like for everyone out there to separate, if they can, the politics of this issue from the science. This whole process is being poisoned by politics”, he said.
Dr. Ryan added that countries and entities are free to pursue their own theories of origin.
“Putting WHO in a position like it has been put in is very unfair to the science we are trying to carry out. And it puts us as an organization, frankly in an impossible position to deliver the answers that the world wants”, he said.
“So, we would ask that we separate the science from the politics and let us get on with finding the answers that we need in a proper, positive atmosphere where we can find the science to drive the solutions, through a process that is driven by solidarity, as Dr. Tedros always says”.