The CEO of the WHO Foundation has told CNBC that the global economy will lose “trillions of dollars” if more Covid-19 vaccines are not shipped worldwide.

Anil Soni, who became the Foundation’s first CEO in January 2021, said that “the governments of Europe and the West have a clear obligation to donate excess doses and put money on the table to buy the vaccines, the volumes needed. to supply 70% of the world’s population this year.”

The World Health Organization has set a target for 70% of the world’s population to be vaccinated by mid-2022.

Speaking on this week’s episode of CNBC’s “Equity and Opportunity” about vaccine equality, Soni said it is a “moral imperative” to vaccinate the world against Covid.

“We live in a world where we see the effects of deep, structural inequality across generations. This is an opportunity to do something completely different and show that history can be corrected. That we can achieve the moral victory of a just response where everyone in the world, we all have the same value, get the same access to this life-saving technology,” said Soni.

“But epidemiologically and economically, vaccine inequality is self-defeating, the numbers just make that clear. We’re going to lose trillions of dollars in the global economy if we don’t achieve high vaccine coverage because what you get in global supply chains is material that can’t come from the countries you’re in.” the lockdowns have continued, the continued high transmission rates of Covid-19.”

Soni said that even with vaccines, the spread of the most recent variant, omicron, has been “breathtaking,” and if large populations of the world remain unvaccinated, future variants could develop that could be resistant to vaccinations.

The WHO Foundation was established in 2020 to support the work of the World Health Organization in tackling the world’s greatest health challenges.

Not enough progress

Soni told CNBC he was proud of the “huge progress” made with vaccines in the first two years of the Covid crisis. But he said the pandemic will not be over until the global target of 70% is reached, and that not enough progress has been made on that front.

Last week, the UN reported that although more than 10.5 billion doses of vaccine had been administered worldwide, only about 13% of those in low-income countries had been vaccinated, compared to nearly 70% in high-income countries.

“We have the opportunity to do it, we can make it happen, but we have to act very differently in the coming months to achieve that goal. We have to mobilize more resources and money to buy the vaccines, we have to share doses, and Critically, we need to ensure effective delivery to countries around the world to go from the billion doses delivered to low-income countries to meet that 70% target,” Soni said.

Fundraising campaign

In 2021, the WHO Foundation launched the “Go Give One” fundraising campaign.

The campaign encourages everyone to contribute $5, with 95% of the money going to buy a single vaccine through the international initiative COVAX – co-led by WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and vaccine alliance Gavi, along with delivery partner UNICEF.

Soni said the campaign has raised $15 million so far by buying 3 million vaccines.

He also said that sharing manufacturing knowledge to produce vaccines is “critical” to achieving vaccine equality.

A shipment of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from an airplane at Felix Houphouet Boigny Airport in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on February 26, 2021.

Sia Kambou | Afp | Getty Images

“Manufacturers in low- and middle-income countries, in the Americas, in Asia and in Africa have the capability to make these products and they’re ready to make them,” he said.

“A number of organizations, including the World Health Organization, are facilitating the technology and information transfer, but we need those companies in the West, in Europe, in the United States to work together and see this as a victory, to see this as an opportunity for them to invest in the kind of capacity in these countries, in the manufacturing industry, that they can’t meet themselves.”

Freedom through vaccinations

When asked what he would say to those against receiving a vaccine, Soni said he would like to participate in such conversations, ask about their concerns and provide more data and information about vaccine safety.

“Many of the vaccines have received conditional approval, not full approval. That doesn’t mean they’re ineffective. It means there’s a regulatory process that requires a certain amount of data about a product’s stability on a shelf, to get full approval.” give,” he said.

With a number of countries recently lifting all Covid restrictions, Soni warned it is necessary to protect that freedom through vaccinations.

“We’re in a moment where we feel liberation and freedom. That’s great. But we have to protect that and the way we protect that is by making sure everyone is vaccinated,” he said.

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