WHO chief plans to meet with WTO head amid inequitable vaccine distribution

The World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom announced on Friday that he plans to meet with the head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala amid inequitable vaccine distribution and a rise in COVID-19 cases for the past four weeks.

Both will discuss how to overcome “the barriers we face to boost production,” the WHO chief said, speaking at his regular press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference following the fourth meeting of the International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee for Pneumonia due to the Novel Coronavirus 2019-nCoV 
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference following the fourth meeting of the International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee for Pneumonia due to the Novel Coronavirus 2019-nCoV WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

He noted that “after six weeks of declining cases in January and February, we are now on track for a fourth consecutive week of increasing cases.”

While almost 150 countries have now started vaccinating their citizens, the world still faces serious barriers in ramping up production and distribution across the globe.

Cases are increasing in most regions and there are worrying trends as the world continues to see the impact of variants, opening up of societies, and inequitable vaccine rollout.

Vaccine equity is particularly important in cities, especially where people live in crowded conditions and the risks of transmission are high.

Director-General Tedros Adhanomn in a panel discussion had stated “The time has come for a new narrative that sees health and health systems not as costs, but investments that are the foundation of productive, resilient and stable economies.”

Perhaps the meeting will aim to loosen macro-economic trade policies to support smoother vaccine distribution and alleviate barriers to acquiring vaccines for those regions that do not have the fiscal power to do so.

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