World has entered stage of 'vaccine apartheid' - WHO head

"The big problem is a lack of sharing. So the solution is more sharing," he told a virtual Paris Peace Forum event.

Earlier, he called on COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers to make shots available to the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility sooner than planned due to a supply shortfall left by Indian export disruptions.

Video Transcript

TEDROS ADHANOM GHEBREYESUS: I think I would go one step further and say not just that the world is at risk of vaccine apartheid. The world is in vaccine apartheid. As you know, high-income countries account for 15% of the world's population but have 45% of the world's vaccines. And low and lower middle-income countries account for almost half of the world's population but have received just 17% of the world's vaccines. So the-- the gap is really huge.

So far, we have shipped more than 63 million doses of vaccine to 124 countries and economies, but that represents just 0.5% of the combined population of those countries and economies. And the problem is not getting vaccines out of COVAX. The problem is getting them in. So COVAX works. It's-- the problem is supply. And we all know the reasons-- vaccine nationalism, vaccine diplomacy, and severe supply constraints.

Even now, some high-income countries are moving to vaccinate children and adolescents while health workers, older people, and other at-risk groups around the world remain unvaccinated. The consequences are clear to see. Cases and deaths from COVID-19 globally remain at or near record highs, and new variants threaten to unravel the gains we have made. The big problem is a lack of sharing, so the solution is more sharing.