New York [US], May 17 (ANI): The sudden increase in COVID-19 cases in India could potentially occur elsewhere if vulnerable countries do not have equitable access to vaccines, UNICEF chief Henrietta Fore warned on Monday with the aim to get richer nations to share their excess doses.
"While the situation in India is tragic, it is not unique. Cases are exploding and health systems are struggling in countries near - like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives - and far, like Argentina and Brazil," said Henrietta Fore, the agency's Executive Director as G7 leaders gear up for their summit next month in the UK.
She said that the clearest pathway out of this pandemic is a global, equitable distribution of vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. "COVAX, led by the WHO, Gavi and CEPI, with UNICEF as implementing partner, represents such a pathway. But COVAX is undersupplied," Henrietta said.
"Soaring domestic demand has meant that 140 million doses intended for distribution to low- and middle-income countries through the end of May cannot be accessed by COVAX. Another 50 million doses are likely to be missed in June. This, added to vaccine nationalism, limited production capacity and lack of funding, is why the roll-out of COVID vaccines is so behind schedule."
UNICEF chief further that the global vaccination race will be won when UN member states make sustainable plans to fully fund and supply the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, while supporting the expansion of vaccine manufacturing capacity, including through proactive Intellectual Property licensing and technological transfer.
"These measures are critical, but they won't change anything overnight. Sharing immediately available excess doses is a minimum, essential and emergency stop-gap measure, and it is needed right now."
UNICEF is a partner in COVAX, the global vaccine equity mechanism. (ANI)