The president of a country where less than 0.1% of people have received their coronavirus vaccine has slammed the “vaccine apartheid” between wealthy and poorer countries.
The president of Namibia, Hage Geingob, slammed the inequitable distribution of vaccines globally as he addressed the World Health Organization press conference.
He is one of several world leaders who was invited to speak at the briefing ahead of World Health Day.
Geingob said Namibia has received some vaccines from “our friends” India and China, but is still waiting for other supplies despite paying a deposit for them.
The country has so far administered the first dose of vaccines to just 0.08% of its population (around 2.5 million people), according to Our World In Data.
The president said: “Building a fairer and healthier world will require concerted action, require that we as members of the human family come together to do everything that is required to return our societies to normal."
Speaking about vaccines, he said: “There is vaccine apartheid. I am saying that we, as a country, have paid a deposit but up until now we didn’t get any vaccines.”
He then called for “equitable access to essential tools” to fight the pandemic including COVID-19 jabs.
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It comes as richer countries have been buying up a large proportion of the available vaccination supplies through bilateral deals with manufacturers and are racing to vaccinate their entire populations.
The UK has so far administered the first jab to nearly 32 million adults out of a population of around 66 million.
WHO director-general Dr Tedros Ghebreysus told Geingob that Namibia would receive some vaccines from the organisation's co-led COVAX programme in around two weeks.
Tedros, who has repeatedly criticised the “moral catastrophe” of richer countries hoarding vaccine supplies, reiterated this condemnation on Tuesday.
He said it is a “travesty” that some countries still have not had enough access to vaccines to begin inoculating health workers and the most vulnerable people against COVID-19.
He said: "Scaling up production and equitable distribution remains the major barrier to ending the acute stage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's a travesty that in some countries health workers and those at-risk groups remain completely unvaccinated."
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