The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that wealthy countries may start hoarding COVID-19 vaccines again, threatening global supplies as they seek to keep up stocks to fight the new Omicron Coronavirus variant.
The comments were made Thursday, December 10, by the agency’s vaccine director, Kate O’Brien.
The WHO and vaccine charity GAVI run an international dose-sharing programme with rich countries but with the new variant , supplies to poor nations could reduce .
“We have to make sure that it [higher shipments] continues,” O’Brien said in a briefing.
“As we head into whatever the Omicron situation is going to be, there is risk that the global supply is again going to revert to high-income countries hoarding vaccines” as they seek to protect their ability to inoculate their citizens, she said later.
O’Brien also said a key problem for COVAX has been wealthy countries donating COVID-19 vaccines with a relatively short shelf life.
COVAX has shipped 610 million doses of vaccines to 144 countries or territories since February, according to GAVI.