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Global roll-out of 12 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses largest-ever but access an issue: WHO

World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said that global roll-out of more than 12 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses is the largest and fastest in human history.

Addressing the annual general meeting of the Developing Countries Vaccine Manufacturers Network (DCVMN) virtually on Thursday, he flagged the issue of inequities in access to COVID-19 vaccines.

The three-day event is being co-hosted by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume, said a statement.

“Global roll-out of more than 12 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses is the largest and fastest in history with an estimated 60 per cent doses produced by manufacturers in developing countries. Despite this achievement, stark inequities in access to COVID-19 vaccines remain,” he said.

“These inequities are due partly to the fact that globally vaccine production is too concentrated. To address this, the WHO and our partners have established the mRNA Tech Transfer hub in South Africa to facilitate the know-how in low & middle-income countries,” Ghebreyesus said.

Adar Poonawalla, CEO of SII, said it was a proud moment for his company to co-host the 23rd DCVMN annual general meeting in Pune.

“Today, the world is more aware and focused on chalking out an ambition-to-action roadmap for future pandemic preparedness. For that, building the infrastructure and regulations to ensure global equity and timely access to vaccines is the foremost priority,” Poonawalla said.

Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya delivered the inaugural address.

DCVMN is an international alliance of manufacturers from developing countries who are engaged in innovation, research, development, manufacturing and supply of high-quality vaccines to 170 countries.

The organisation aims to protect people against known and emerging infectious diseases globally by increasing the production of high-quality vaccines in developing countries.