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Vaccine Nationalism Puts World on Brink of ‘Catastrophic Moral Failure’: WHO Chief

The world is on the brink of “catastrophic moral failure” in sharing COVID-19 vaccines, the head of the World Health Organization said on Monday, urging countries and manufacturers to spread doses more fairly around the world.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the prospects for equitable distribution were at “serious risk” just as its COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme aimed to start distributing inoculations next month.

He noted 44 bilateral deals were signed last year and at least 12 have already been signed this year.

“This could delay COVAX deliveries and create exactly the scenario COVAX was designed to avoid, with hoarding, a chaotic market, an uncoordinated response and continued social and economic disruption,” he said.

Such a “me-first approach” left the world’s poorest and most vulnerable at risk, he said at the opening of the body’s annual Executive Board meeting in virtual format.