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"Vaccine nationalism" worries grow as global COVID-19 cases near 100 mln

(Xinhua)    09:48, January 21, 2021

GENEVA, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- As the global death toll from COVID-19 has soared past the two-million mark and the number of confirmed cases worldwide is approaching 100 million, criticism about "vaccine nationalism" and the lack of fair distribution of doses is mounting.

Therese Hesketh, a professor of global health at the University College London (UCL) and the director of the Center for Global Health at Zhejiang University, urged countries and manufacturers to spread the vaccines more fairly around the world.

"We can get the vaccines now. It's about getting the vaccines in place in all countries, getting the vaccines lined up, the supply chains organized, organizing the people. It's not difficult. It's not rocket science. It's simply organization," she told Xinhua in a recent interview.

It comes as COVAX, an international initiative aimed at ensuring equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines, plans to start distributing inoculations next month and have 2 billion vaccine doses available by the end of 2021.

On Monday, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that the world is on the brink of "catastrophic moral failure" in sharing COVID-19 vaccines.

Speaking during the WHO's annual Executive Board meeting, Tedros said that while more than 39 million doses of vaccine had been administered in 49 higher-income countries, just 25 doses had been given in one lowest-income country. "Not 25 million; not 25 thousand; just 25," he said.

Data from Johns Hopkins University showed that the grim milestone of 2 million global COVID-19-related deaths was reached on Jan. 15.

On Wednesday, the number of confirmed infection cases topped 96 million worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Meanwhile, the UCL's Hesketh urged governments to maintain their public health measures and to strengthen them where it is necessary.

"The key things are to enforce all the measures of social distancing, of closing borders where necessary to prevent the spread of (coronavirus), particularly the new variants, and also to encourage people and to organize the distribution of vaccines."

"We now know that there is light at the end of the tunnel if we can get the vaccines out to as many people as possible," she said.

As the world is struggling to contain the pandemic, vaccination is underway in some countries with the already-authorized coronavirus vaccines.

Meanwhile, 237 candidate vaccines are still being developed worldwide -- 64 of them in clinical trials -- in countries including Germany, China, Russia, Britain and the United States, according to information released by WHO on Jan. 15.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Meng Bin, Liang Jun)

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