Funds to launch new vaccine system over the next five years are ‘timid’ and cause ‘tremendous harm’, says Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
Covid-19 vaccine boosters are ‘immoral’ and ‘unfair’, says WHO chief
The plan to launch a new vaccine booster is immoral and unfair, the head of the World Health Organisation has said, as he blasted funding for the project as “tepid” and causing “tremendous harm”.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who became director general of the UN health agency in September, said the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) should be given more money to develop and launch the system, which is vital to the global fight against polio and other deadly diseases.
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He pointed to Gavi’s “refusal to give support to a promising vaccine that can only be given to mothers and babies during the critical first year of life” as one reason the alliance is lacking funding.
“Covid-19 will make a huge difference to the lives of children and it should be launched immediately to save millions of children’s lives,” Tedros said in a statement on Thursday.
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“It is my hope that this small amount of resistance will eventually lead to an agreement at an international level to support the vaccine. This will benefit children across the world.”
The vaccine, designed to be used together with an existing vaccine against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis, is made by Oxitec, an American biotech company that wants to use bacteria developed for mosquito control to protect children from diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis.
With a market potential of more than $3bn, the vaccines were offered to the WHO in 2015, but the UN health agency declined to put them on its priority list for the condition that they be bought by global health schemes. Gavi said it had concerns about the economics and science of the vaccine.
The news comes a month after Gavi said it faced a record deficit for the 2019-20 financial year after agreeing cuts with national vaccination programmes across the world.