By G9ija

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) have asked wealthy countries to share COVID-19 vaccines with poorer nations once they inoculate their health workers and other vulnerable groups.

Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, gave the charge in a statement yesterday, saying about 130 countries with a combined population of 2.5 billion people were yet to deliver any COVID-19 vaccines.

WHO explained that, of the 128 million jabs of COVID-19 delivered so far, three-quarters of these have taken place in only 10 countries, and enjoined vaccine manufacturers to allocate the limited supplies equitably.

They said: “Over three-quarters of those vaccinations are in only 10 countries that account for 60 per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). As of today, almost 130 countries, with a population of 2.5 billion people, are yet to administer a single dose.

“The self-defeating strategy of wealthy nation will cost lives and livelihoods, give the virus further opportunity to mutate and evade vaccines and will undermine a global economic recovery. Whether we win or lose, we will do so together.”

They also admonished world leaders to look beyond their borders and employ a vaccine strategy that could actually end the pandemic and limit variants, adding that globally, over 107 million cases of COVID-19 and over 2.3 million deaths have been recorded.

MEANWHILE, Nigeria has been named one of the countries to get vaccines through the COVAX Global vaccines facility, the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), as it is expected to receive 16 million free doses in the first half of the year.

COVAX, an international alliance co-led by GAVI, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the WHO and over 180 countries, is a global initiative to support the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines for about one billion people by the end of 2021.

In a statement, yesterday, GAVI shared the first forecasts of countries that would receive COVID-19 vaccines through COVAX’s Advance Market Commitment (AMC), adding that COVAX had allocated over 330 million doses for low and middle-income countries, including Nigeria and will aim to deliver most of these before June ending.

The Guardian learnt that Nigeria, as one of the 92 ODA-eligible countries participating in the COVAX AMC initiative, would benefit from the arrangement and access free vaccines for at least 20 per cent of its population.

It was also learnt that the United Kingdom (UK) would be playing an active role in ensuring effective and equitable introduction of COVID-19 vaccines.

“This is a global pandemic that needs global solution. The UK is at the forefront of tackling COVID-19 worldwide and has so far pledged up to £1.3 billion of UK aid to end the coronavirus pandemic as quickly as possible, championing access to vaccines, especially for the poorest nations.