COVAX has in the past week shipped more than 25,000 doses to low-income countries only twice on any given day [File: Monicah Mwangi/Reuters]

The head of the World Health Organization has warned that COVID vaccines are being “outpaced by variants,” as the Delta variant has spread in 98 countries.

Iran PressEurope: Rich nations are sharing vaccines with low-income countries too slowly to prevent the spread of the Delta variant of COVID, risking millions of lives, the head of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned.

The director-general of the WHO said the sharing of vaccines was “only a trickle, which is being outpaced by variants” after it emerged that the Delta variant is now present in at least 98 countries, The Guardian reported.

His warning came as Dame Sarah Gilbert, the Oxford professor who led the team behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, called for caution over proposals to vaccinate children in the UK. “We have to balance what we think about vaccinating children in high-income countries with vaccinating the rest of the world because we need to stop transmission of this virus globally,” she told the Observer.

“We’re not completely out of the woods. And that’s why I’m very worried about getting vaccines around the rest of the world because we need to stop the virus being transmitted and continuing to evolve. That could give us a new variant that is going to be really difficult to deal with.”

Ghebreyesus said world leaders must ensure that at least 10% of people in all countries should be vaccinated by the end of September to protect vulnerable people and health workers.

“The Delta variant is dangerous and is continuing to evolve and mutate, which requires constant evaluation and careful adjustment of the public health response,” Ghebreyesus said. “Delta has been detected in at least 98 countries and is spreading quickly in countries with low and high vaccination coverage.

“The world must equitably share protective gear, oxygen, tests, treatments and vaccines.” By next July, 70% of people in every country should be vaccinated, he added. “This is the best way to slow the pandemic, save lives and drive a truly global economic recovery, and along the way prevent further dangerous variants from getting the upper hand.”


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