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WHO chief warns against monopolising vaccines

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Agency Reporter

The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday issued another warning against “vaccine nationalism,” saying some countries are putting their own interests ahead of others in trying to secure supplies of a possible vaccine.

At the agency’s regular briefing in Geneva, its Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “Nationalism exacerbated the pandemic and contributed to the total failure of the global supply chain.”

He noted that shortages of protective gear when the pandemic first hit caused by some nations hoarding resources.

The WHO chief said countries needed to work together to “prevent vaccine nationalism,” so in the event a vaccine or vaccines are developed, those at the highest risk will have equal access.

Tedros said the world is so interconnected, adding, “We will need each other more than ever once a vaccine or vaccines are approved for use”.

As an example, he said “a vaccine developed in one country may need to be filled in vials with stoppers that are produced in another, using materials for the high-grade glass that is only available from yet another country”.

Meanwhile, WHO officials warned the world’s young people that they are not immune to COVID-19 and their behaviour is putting everyone else at risk.

WHO epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove noted that the proportion of younger people among those infected had risen globally in the past month, putting at risk vulnerable sectors of the population worldwide, including the elderly and sick people in densely populated areas with weak health services.

Officials in countries from Asia to Europe over the past month have noted “hotspots” in their nations where COVID-19 cases were surging were in night clubs or other areas where young people like to congregate.

More than 21.9 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 772,647 have died.

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