The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) newly-elected Indian-American chief economist Gita Gopinath said the threat of Omicron has been aggravated owing to the vaccine inequity around the world.
In an interview to NDTV, she underlined the need for both manufacturers and developed countries to take a lead in delivering the shots to the poorer countries that need it at the earliest.
“Vaccine inequity is tragic. We are at the end of 2021 with high-income countries having vaccinated 70 per cent of their population and lower-income countries less than four per cent. The target was to vaccinate 40 per cent of the population in every country by the end of this year… 80 countries won’t meet that mark. For the vast majority, it is because they don’t have enough doses,” she told NDTV.
She said Covax has a contract with manufacturers, but only 18 per cent of doses have been delivered anf that they haven’t been prioritizing deliveries. “Dose donations pledged by high-income countries were 1.5 billion… only 300 million have been delivered so far,” Gopinath told NDTV.
Gopinath’s statements come a day after she met Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The IMF chief economist’s call for vaccination comes amid the rapid spread of the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus. During the interview, she stressed on the need to prioritise vaccine deliveries.
The Covax programme was set up with the aim to ensure equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines globally. The programme was to deliver vaccines to 92 low- and middle-income countries that include several countries in Asia and a significant number of African and Oceanic nations whose governments would otherwise not be able to buy the required number of doses.