'Poorer countries' lack of access to COVID-19 vaccines is tragic': IMF's Gita Gopinath

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IMF Chief Economist Gita Gopinath said that vaccine inequity - or poorer countries' lack of access to Covid vaccines - amid growing Omicron threat is tragic. Gopinath while speaking to NDTV spelt out the stark difference in vaccination rates between the two and the impact this has on the world.

Gopinath emphasized the need for both manufacturers and developed countries - particularly those who had pledged vaccine doses to less fortunate nations - to prioritise those deliveries.

"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 said.

"For instance, COVAX contracts with manufacturers... only 18 per cent of doses have been delivered. 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.

"We need to prioritise vaccine deliveries. There is also a big demand for booster doses (fueled by the spread of the more infectious and vaccine-resistant Omicron variant) worried that this might (again affect) supplies to low-income countries," she said, as she called on developed countries to refrain from restraining export of vaccines and medical equipment.

The COVAX programme is a global vaccine-sharing initiative launched by the United Nations and its partners that aims to provide doses to over 90 middle- and low-income countries.


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