World Health Organization Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has Monday announced that Japan and Australia have received WHO Emergency Use Listing, bringing AstraZeneca’s EUL’s to five.
What this means is that Japan, Australia, Europe, India and the Republic of Korea are the only licensed manufactures of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Dr Tedros made the announcement during his opening remarks at a media briefing on COVID-19 when he urged other manufacturers to follow this example.
“Thousands of people are still dying every day and that deserves urgent action,” he said.
The Director Generals remarks come as the world is dealing with the Delta Covid-19 variant which is now in more than 104 countries and is expected to soon be the dominant strain circulating worldwide.
According to Dr Tedros, Delta and other highly transmissible variants are driving catastrophic waves of cases, which are translating into high numbers of hospitalisations and death.
“The world is watching in real-time as the COVID-19 virus continues to change and become more transmissible. My message today is that we are experiencing a worsening public health emergency that further threatens lives, livelihoods and a sound global economic recovery,” he said.
On vaccinations, Dr Tedros said some countries and regions are actually ordering millions of booster doses before other countries have had supplies to vaccinate their health workers and the most vulnerable.
In light of this, he urged Moderna and Pfizer to prioritize and channel supply to COVAX, the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team and low- and low-middle income countries, which have very low vaccine coverage.
The Director-General at the same time thanked the G20 finance ministers who recognized the importance of funding the ACT Accelerator so that the world can ensure tests, treatments and vaccines are distributed equitably and I hope this translates quickly to filling the US$16 billion funding gap.
“Tens of millions of vaccine dose donations are starting to come through, but we need more and we need them faster. We need an all-out, no regrets, accelerated building up of new vaccine manufacturing hubs. For that to happen quicker, pharmaceutical companies must share their licenses, know-how and technology,” he said.