The World Health Organisation, WHO, estimated the world needs 250 million additional COVID-19 vaccine doses by September to ensure at least 10 percent of the population of every country receives the life-saving jab by then.
The WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom, disclosed this at the United Kingdom (UK) High-Level event on equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in humanitarian settings.
He noted that many low-income countries were still struggling to obtain vaccines, thereby leaving their populations at risk from the disease.
“More than 2 billion doses of vaccine have now been administered globally, but less than half of one percent has been administered in low-income countries,” he said.
He stressed that the disparity in vaccine distribution had allowed COVID-19 to spread even further.
He also warned that the situation creates an opportunity for the emergence of other variants that evade available vaccines.
“The equation is quite simple: the sooner doses are shared, the sooner we can vaccinate the most vulnerable all over the world. And the sooner we do that, the sooner we can end the pandemic and drive a truly global and inclusive recovery,” he said.
By Tuesday, the number of COVID-19 infections globally had surpassed the 173.7 million mark with over 3.7 million deaths, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, a May 2020 study by a United States (U.S.) government laboratory had concluded that the theory that the COVID-19 pandemic might have been caused by the coronavirus leaking from a virology lab in China’s Wuhan is plausible and needs further investigation, The Wall Street Journal has reported.
The U.S. State Department had drawn from this study in its own investigation into the origin of COVID-19 in the final days of the Trump administration.
The lab leak theory has received renewed interest in the U.S. with President Joe Biden ordering a comprehensive investigation by the intelligence community into the origin of the pandemic that has killed more than 3.5 million people worldwide. He has asked for a report in 90 days.
The U.S. has said it is determined to “get to the bottom” of the pandemic and, along with several other countries, has urged the WHO to launch a comprehensive probe, going beyond its earlier report, which had found the lab leak theory “extremely unlikely”.