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COVID-19: WHO Plans Vaccine Distribution by December

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LAGOS – The World Health Organisa­tion (WHO) has said that a vaccine against coronavirus may be ready by year-end, noting that it would distrib­ute two billion doses of its COVAX global vaccine by the end of 2021.

Tedros Adhanom Ghe­breyesus, WHO Director-Gen­eral, said this at the United Nations agency’s executive board meeting on Tuesday, which was to examine the global response to COVID-19 pandemic.

Ghebreyesus called for sol­idarity and political commit­ment by all leaders to ensure equal distribution of vaccines when they become available.

The DG in a final remark to the WHO’s executive board, said; “We will need vaccines and there is hope that by the end of this year we may have a vaccine. There is hope.”

This announcement is coming at the background of the world health body’s launch of a real-time review of a COVID-19 vaccine devel­oped by US drugmaker, Pfiz­er and Germany’s VioNTech and after a similar announce­ment for AstraZeneca’s vac­cine last week.

WHO-led COVAX global vaccine facility.

The WHO-led COVAX global vaccine facility cur­rently has nine experimental vaccines that are under its development, and it aims to distribute two billion doses by the end of 2021.

The two-day WHO exec­utive board meeting, which examined the global response to the pandemic, heard calls from countries including Ger­many, Britain and Australia for reforms to strengthen the UN agency.

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, and former Libe­rian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, met for the first time last month.

Ghebreyesus said, “We hope to get the real lessons that we can implement and prevent the same thing from happening. But I would like to assure you that WHO is ready to learn from this and change this organisation.”

“During our transforma­tion, we promised this, we promised to keep the change as a constant,” he said, refer­ring to his programme since taking the helm in 2017.

Recall that the WHO had insisted that a vaccine may not be ready until the end of 2020.

The agency came under fire over its role in the man­agement of the pandemic crisis by the President Donald Trump’s administration.

It was accused of being too close to China and not doing enough to question Beijing’s actions late last year when the virus first emerged in Wuhan.

But, Ghebreyesus denied the allegation, insisting that his agency has continuously enlightened the global public.

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