Poorest Countries to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine Within Weeks, WHO Says


The world’s poorest countries will begin to receive their first COVID-19 vaccines between the end of January and the middle of February, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Jan. 7.

According to Director Kate O’Brien of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals at WHO, poorer countries can start receiving the vaccines as early as January or in February as part of the WHO-backed vaccine and distribution program, COVAX.

“We will start to deliver those vaccines probably by the end of January, and, if not, certainly by early February and mid-February,” O’Brien said at a live social media event, referring to over 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine in the COVAX facility that it has secured through agreements.

Co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, COVAX has raised $6 billion of the $7 billion to fund deliveries to 92 lower- and lower-middle income economies.

“That’s how countries in Africa and South Asia, and other countries around the world of these 92 that are less able to afford vaccines, are actually going to get vaccines,” O’Brien said.

COVAX aims to deliver vaccines to 20% of the population of each country involved in the program by the end of 2021.

“COVAX has been backed by 190 countries and economies, and I want to see all manufacturers channel supply to COVAX quickly so that rollouts can begin and those at high-risk are protected around the world. People must come first over short-term profits,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated in a tweet.

Meanwhile, some of the wealthiest countries in the world — United States, Britain, Canada, and some countries in the European Union — have already begun administering vaccines.

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