Rich nations must give more vaccines: WHO

·2-min read

Wealthy countries need to give more COVID-19 vaccines and follow the US in making doses available immediately to cover a 200 million dose gap, a WHO senior adviser says.

Warning of a "two-track recovery", the World Health Organisation is urging wealthy countries to donate their surplus doses to poorer countries instead of giving them to less vulnerable groups, such as children.

Wealthy nations have so far donated 150 million doses via the COVAX sharing scheme.

However, WHO senior adviser Bruce Aylward said on Friday that only a small portion of those doses will be available in the short-term in June, July and August when they can make a difference in slowing the pace of infections in the global pandemic.

"We are going to need twice that much and it's got to be brought forward," he said, referring to the size of wealthy country donations so far, as G7 health ministers meet in Oxford.

"We are setting up for failure if we don't get early doses."

He praised a US plan announced on Thursday to quickly share 25 million doses and encouraged other wealthy countries to follow suit.

Aylward estimated that Indian vaccine export disruptions and delays in getting other vaccines online meant that the COVAX sharing scheme had a gap of around 200 million doses.

India's Serum Institute has diverted AstraZeneca supplies to the domestic market amid a devastating second wave in India and is expected to lift those restrictions in the fourth quarter when other products earmarked for COVAX are also due online.

"All of that is going to arrive at the same time," Aylward said.

Even after a summit this week that secured an additional $US2.4 billion ($A3.1 billion) in pledges, a nearly $US17 billion ($A22 billion) funding gap for the WHO's "ACT Accelerator" to back COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics remains, he said.

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