Work together to end vaccine shortage
World Health Organization Europe's chief appealed for European nations and Big Pharma to unite in the struggle to accelerate coronavirus inoculations, as Johnson & Johnson applied for emergency authorisation of its single-shot vaccine in the United States.
Pressure is growing not only on wealthy nations to speed up their stuttering rollouts, but also for a more equitable allocation of precious vaccine supplies to poorer countries, in a push to end a pandemic that has claimed close to 2.3 million lives.
Supply shortages and diplomatic bickering have marred the vaccine rollouts in Europe, where just 2.5 percent of the population has received a first dose, with the production capacity at pharmaceutical plants a source of tension between the firms and EU bosses.
The virus is known to have infected more than 104 million people globally, and experts have warned that vaccines will only help control its spread and end unpopular and economically painful restrictions if the whole world is covered. The milestone of 100 million administered doses was passed on Tuesday, but 65 percent of them were in high-income countries.
Kluge reiterated the WHO's call for rich countries to help poorer parts of the world, urging them to donate spare doses. "We know that in the EU, Canada, UK, US, they all ordered and made deals for four to nine times more doses than they need," he said.
Meanwhile, Pfizer Inc yesterday said it had withdrawn an application for emergency-use authorisation of its Covid-19 vaccine in India, after failing to meet the drug regulator's demand for a local safety and immunogenicity study.