LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In response to abhorrent inequality in the global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines among wealthy and developing countries, World Trade Organization (WTO) Director-General Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has called on government leaders and vaccine manufacturers to negotiate fairer terms for economically challenged nations. AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest provider of HIV/AIDS care and treatment globally, which operates in 45 countries, fully supports WTO's appeal for vaccine equity.
Less than 1% of the population in Africa has received any COVID-19 shots at all. By contrast, in Europe, 12% have been vaccinated and nearly 19% in North America. What's worse, some parts of the developing world are not expected to see substantial vaccine shipments until the end of 2022.
"If the immorality of vaccine rationing doesn't bother you, the grave danger that it poses to the world should," said AHF President Michael Weinstein. "While world leaders and pharma companies dawdle over patents and funding, the death toll from the pandemic is nearing 3 million, and new variants of the virus are running rampant. We are far from the 'light at the end of the tunnel,' and in fact, we face a very real danger of the pandemic getting worse, unless every single avenue is leveraged to vaccinate our world as quickly as possible."
In her appeal, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, who is Nigeria's former minister of finance and former chair of the Global Vaccine Alliance (GAVI), said developing countries cannot be left to endure a decade-long wait for vaccines, like they were with lifesaving antiretroviral drugs to treat HIV.
The WTO chief is expected to meet face-to-face with pharmaceutical companies and representatives of WTO member states in mid-April to push for expanded manufacturing capacity and more flexibility in how vaccine intellectual property rights are shared worldwide.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, currently provides medical care and/or services to over 1.5 million clients in 45 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, the Asia/Pacific Region and Europe. To learn more about AHF, please visit our website: www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth and follow us on Twitter: @aidshealthcare and Instagram: @aidshealthcare.