WHO: Vaccine won’t end pandemic Global epidemic on wrong track

The World Health Organization has issued a warning that the current global coronary disease epidemic is on the wrong track and that a vaccine will not end the pandemic.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday (April 9), WHO’s technical head of health emergencies, Van Kerckhove, said the number of confirmed cases and deaths of coronary heart disease has increased for six consecutive weeks, and that to make the epidemic go away, in addition to vaccination against coronary heart disease, other tools are needed to help contain the epidemic, namely keeping social distance, wearing masks, avoiding crowds and working from home.

Van Kerckhove said, “We now have the tools to prevent the spread of coronary disease and save lives, so we must identify the causes of the mismanagement of the epidemic, as well as seek solutions to address them.”

WHO Director-General Tandse revealed at a regular press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on Friday that while countries around the world have so far received more than 700 million doses of the coronary vaccine, wealthy countries account for more than 87 percent of them and low-income countries for only 0.2 percent.

The global distribution of vaccines remains highly uneven …… on average one in four people in high-income countries are vaccinated,” said Tandse. In low-income countries on the other hand, for every 500 people or so, only one person is vaccinated.”

In addition, the WHO’s Coronavirus Vaccine Global Access Mechanism (COVAX) also faces a vaccine shortage. Although about 38 million doses of vaccine have been distributed to countries through this mechanism so far, it is still far behind the original target. According to the original plan, nearly 100 million doses of vaccine should have been distributed by the end of March this year.

The key issue now is how to access the vaccine, Tandse said. “We understand that some countries and companies, for their own political or commercial reasons, want to donate vaccines on their own, bypassing COVAX. These bilateral arrangements, however, exacerbate the risk of imbalances in vaccine distribution.”

Consultations are underway with high-income countries in the hope that surplus vaccines can be shared

To address the vaccine shortage, COVAX partners, including the Global Alliance for Vaccine Immunization (Gavi), are drawing up contingency plans to accelerate vaccine production in the short term, with the goal of distributing 2 billion doses of the coronavirus vaccine by the end of this year.

The COVAX mechanism, led by WHO, Gavi and the Consortium for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI), was created to improve the efficiency of vaccine development and to ensure that countries share equally the vaccine they need.

Gavi Executive Director Berkeley said COVAX is consulting with several high-income countries to take excess vaccines and share them. A cost-sharing mechanism is also being developed that will hopefully allow low-income countries to purchase additional vaccines for coronary diseases through COVAX, with funding from multilateral development banks.

On the other hand, because some countries have decided not to allow younger nationals to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, Berkeley said when questioned Friday that the vaccines will be sent to poorer countries to help catch up with the pace of vaccination.

Berkeley said, “As some countries have decided which vaccine to prioritize, there may be some surplus vaccine, and as such, we will do our best to ensure that these vaccines can be delivered immediately if there are other countries willing to accept them.”

After drug regulators in the European Union and the United Kingdom discovered thrombotic side effects of the AstraZeneca coronary disease vaccine, a growing number of countries switched to replacing or suspending the vaccine with other vaccines or recommending it only for older people over the age of 55. AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals has said it will work with national regulators to identify the causes of each blood clot incident.

Strauss, chairman of the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) safety committee, said this week that authorities had received 169 reports of blood clots as of early April after 34 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were administered. Most of those experiencing blood clot side effects were women under the age of 60.

However, WHO considers the reported blood clots to be rare among the estimated 200 million AstraZeneca vaccine recipients worldwide.